It's the season for showing thanks and we wanted to be sure we expressed ours!
First and foremost, we would like to thank a very important group of individuals for all their hard work over the past 18 months. Without a Board of Directors, a non-profit organization cannot exist. If it were not for Vivian, Robert, Miguel, Ismael, Cynthia, Beth, Tamara, and Omar, our organization would not have the opportunity to do what we do. Thank you all for taking time away from your busy schedules to ensure our success. We appreciate you and look forward to our continued work together to grow and learn!
Secondly, we would like to thank our three partners for all the support they have given us over the past six months. GEAR UP 4 LA, Hub Cities Consortium, and NewDef LA - we thank you for believing in our mission and for spreading awareness behind what we do. We appreciate you and are proud to be your partner!
To all the administrators and teachers that welcomed us into your schools, we thank you. We thank you for allowing us to do our work. It is because of your belief in our organization that we have the opportunities to fulfill our organization's mission. We look forward to hopefully continuing our work with your schools in 2015 and wish you continued success.
Our supporters! We thank you for all the donations you sent our way throughout the year. Your donations allow us to get out and make the difference that we make. We appreciate you and look forward to seeing you all at our 2nd Annual Silent Auction/Benefit in Los Angeles on May 2nd, 2015!
Lastly, to the kids. It is because of you that we wake up every morning and put our best foot forward towards creating experiences that motivate and inspire you to reach your highest potential. Thank you to all the students who we laughed with and learned from. To the students who we have yet to reach, we look forward to sharing our journey with you.
I hope that everyone has a safe and fun-filled Thanksgiving with loved ones and that we all give and receive the thanks that we rightfully deserve.
Remember that blog post about Leaders PLUS ME in Huntington Park?
Here's a video for you to watch and actually see what occurred.
[Please forgive the quality of audio at certain points throughout the video]
The last 2 minutes of the video feature testimonials from 3 students. It's truly wonderful to see the impact the program had on these students and the other 50 that participated.
"I would recommend this workshop...to my friends that don't believe in themselves."
"I would recommend it. It makes it easier."
"I would recommend it to people who feel they are not good enough."
We all go through moments in our lives when we lack confidence and feel we are not good enough. This powerful program impacts students and gives them the confidence and tools them need to "go confidently in the direction of their dreams."
I hope that if you have a moment when you feel you are not good enough, you pause and reflect on all the amazing qualities you have and realize you are.
What are the first five words that come to your mind when you hear the word 'school'?
Children, teachers, books, playgrounds, and learning were the first five that came to my mind. Maybe you miraculously thought of the exact same five words as I did, maybe we matched a few, or maybe you came up with five completely different ones. No matter what category you fell into, you have words that you associate with school.
I have visited over 200 schools throughout my professional career and no two schools have felt the same. Whether they are directly across the street from each other, in neighboring communities, or in completely different states, each school has left a unique impression on me.
I enjoy the uniqueness that schools possess. Walking the halls of high schools, the quads of middle schools, and the playgrounds of elementary schools - I typically focus my attention on two things: the kids and the words.
Every time I walk on a school's campus, I look around and smile when I see students interacting with one another and having fun. It's amazing how much you can learn from students just by observing them in their element.
Aside from focusing on the students, I always look for words. I search for those positive affirmations that lie purposefully on a school's campus. Whether it's 'HOPE' made out of children's handprints, 'RESPONSIBILITY' lining the ceiling of the auditorium, or words that inspire possibilities in the cafeteria, I look for those words.
I believe these words can have a profound impact on the youth or adults that reflect on them. When you're having a bad day, just look around and find those positive words to help build you up. Unfortunately, I realize most of these words go unnoticed. We become so focused on completing our task or gossiping with our friends, that we forget to stop and reflect on these small things.
I've always been a huge advocate for living life with a positive mindset. I also am well aware at how difficult this can be at times. Due to this, I purposefully place positive words all throughout my house and life. I have learned that it's important to stop, reflect, and appreciate these words that have the power to lift us up.
I hope that if you get the opportunity to walk on a school's campus in the near future, you enjoy observing those students in their element, but you also search for those words of possibilities that are purposely placed. Maybe they will give you the courage, strength, or motivation you need - to get through your day.
Last week we completed our first ever Leaders PLUS ME pilot program in Huntington Park. For those of you who follow our Social Media accounts, you know it turned out to be a HUGE success!
The program focused on the following topics: Knowing Yourself/Self-Confidence/Goal Setting/Grit
There were over 50 high school students in attendance for our two-day program, along with a camera crew that was there to capture our journey. Throughout the program, the students watched various YouTube videos, participated in heartfelt dialogues relating to each topic, listened to powerful personal narratives, and discovered things about themselves that they will never forget.
When asked to create a list of things they've accomplished in their lives, over half the group felt they had nothing to write down. They did not feel like they had anything to be proud of and felt they had never accomplished anything.
Our goal was to get the students to shift their mindsets and realize that there were many things that they had accomplished and should be proud of.
Here are just a few the students shared after they realized they were accomplishments:
After working in small groups, we had students brainstorm and set various goals for themselves.
"I will graduate high school by June of 2015 by passing all of my A-G requirements and completing all of my assignments on time."
"I will start college in Fall of 2015 after earning my high school diploma and getting accepted to the college that I have applied to."
"I will land a kick flip on my skateboard before this summer by practicing each week after school."
"I will be the first in my family to earn my high school diploma in June of 2015 by passing my classes and staying positive about my education."
Personality strengths were discovered. Personal accomplishments were highlighted. Goals were set.
Personal mantras were quoted. Self-confidence was increased. Grit was established.
We ended our program by having the students record their FILM (Feelings/Inspiration/Learnings/Motivation) and share their final thoughts with the group.
On one of the feedback forms, one student wrote: "I feel grateful that I was picked to attend this program. I have never been to anything like this before and I realized no matter how many times I fall, I can always get back up."
I hope you can take some time away from your busy life to reflect on all your amazing accomplishments. And while you do that, don't forget to be grateful for all those times you fell and found a way to get back up!