Wednesday, August 24, 2011

New Apprenticeship Program in the works

At the HALO Learning Center, we pride ourselves on the art therapy and life skills workshops we provide to at-risk youth in Kansas City.   These workshops give them a creative outlet to work through their problems and often their pain.  The workshops also teach them basic skills such as budgeting and general finances, applying for college, finding scholarships, and dozens of other things that will help them throughout their lives. As we declare in our mission statement, one of  the Center's primary goals is that of "equipping at-risk youth with the skills to become contributing members of their communities."  The workshops will certainly help us to accomplish this, but we want to take it even further by giving the youth  the opportunity to learn the professional skills that they will need in their future careers.  In order to reach that goal, we are in the process of creating an Apprenticeship Program to get the youth out into the working world.

The program is still in the planning stages, but is already generating a lot of  enthusiasm.  Even as we work diligently on establishing the parameters, and generating the multitude of forms and policies needed to launch the program, HALO youth are already showing an interest in becoming apprentices.   We're so excited to help them down this future focused path, and enable them to learn the basics of professionalism while receiving hands-on experience in a field that interests them.

This program is even more exciting, because it offers benefits not only to the youth, but to the community as well.  The businesses involved will have the satisfaction of knowing that they are truly making a difference and providing an invaluable experience to the youth who most need it.  This program also provides an ideal opportunity for members of the Kansas City community to become involved.  Prior to establishing a connection with the business, we intend to pair the youth with a Mentor who will serve as a liaison between the apprentice and the business, as well as acting as an advocate for the youth.  This mentor will check in with the apprentice weekly to discuss the youth's progress, offer friendly advice, address any concerns, and just basically offer encouragement and support.  The time commitment for mentors is only a few hours a week, but the impact of those few hours will be immeasurable. 

If you are in the Kansas City area and would like to become a mentor or your business is interested in offering an apprenticeship, please contact Michelle at  We'd love for you to be part of this program!

Friday, August 19, 2011

How To: Get Involved With The HALO Learning Center

Hello, my name is Natalie and I am the Workshop & Volunteer Coordinator for the HALO Learning Center. This week I am going to give you an idea of what it looks like to be a volunteer in the Learning Center. There are several ways to get involved, regardless of your experience, talents, and time constraints.

The HALO Learning Center relies completely on volunteers to run our weekly workshops. Chelsea mentioned in our first post that we partner with several local homeless shelters and residential homes to provide art therapy and life skills workshops to the youth that are being served by those agencies. Each agency has a specific day that they come to the Center (or the Center goes to them- more on that in a moment).

We have workshops with reStart Youth Emergency on Tuesday, Niles Home for Children on Wednesday, and an Open Dream Night in the Center on Thursday that is open to all agencies that wish to attend. On Monday nights we have a pair of volunteers that travel to the reStart Family Shelter to conduct a weekly Art Night.

Each night that there is a workshop in the Learning Center we usually have 2-3 volunteers present. One of these volunteers is a workshop host and the other is the workshop facilitator.

Workshop Host

A workshop host is essentially in charge of the night. It is the workshop host’s responsibility to come up with a lesson plan. We have had some amazing workshops recently, and the youth have really enjoyed making Story Quilts, totem poles, and filming video poetry.

As a workshop host you are able to be an influence in these youths’ lives. We strive to create workshops that will positively affect the youth and hopefully instill life skills that will help them to go on and be successful adults.


Workshop Facilitator

Just as workshop hosts are essential to the creative side of workshops in the HALO Learning Center, workshop facilitators are an integral part of what makes each night run smoothly. Before a host even steps foot in the Learning Center, a facilitator is preparing for them. It is the facilitator’s responsibility to read through the plan for that evening and pull out any supplies that will be needed.

The workshop facilitator also begins the workshop with a brief introduction, usually some background information on that night’s host and any announcements that need to be made. After the workshop host takes over, the facilitator steps in and acts as an extra pair of hands as necessary.

One of my favorite things about facilitating workshops is being able to take the time to have conversations with the HALO Center members. It really is an amazing opportunity to simply be able to be present to the youth and learn about them as people.


General HALO Learning Center Volunteer

Have you read through the first two volunteer options but are still not sure that either of those could be a good fit for you? Not a problem! We have an infinite number of ways that you can help. We are always accepting donations consisting of art supplies, school supplies, and other materials. Or if you prefer to donate your time, we always welcome a helping hand in the Learning Center.

For example last weekend two of our volunteers, John and Michelle Cordone, came in and cleaned and organized the Center. John was also able to use his technological background to take a look at some of our donated computer parts and tell us what would work for our program and what parts needed to be replaced.

If you have any questions about volunteering in the HALO Learning Center, please email me at or Michelle Cordone at . We would love to help brainstorm ways in which you can contribute to the HALO Learning Center. Thank you!


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Welcome to The HALO Learning Center!

The HALO Learning Center in Kansas City opened its doors in the Spring of 2010. Since then we have been focused on growing our programs and expanding our mission: The HALO Learning Center is committed to improving the lives of youth in need. It serves as a safe haven that fosters educational and emotional growth while equipping at-risk youth with the skills to become contributing members of their communities. We begin this blog today as an attempt to bring The Center and our Members (Kansas City's homeless and foster youth) a little closer to you. The HALO Center Team - Director, Interns and Volunteers - will be maintaining the blog. Each week a member of the team will bring you news from The Center. Take a peek by catching this month's HALO News clip featuring The Center  -

To begin, I would like to give you a quick background into how The Center came about. The HALO Learning Center is a domestic program supported by The HALO Foundation, Helping Art Liberate Orphans. The HALO Foundation currently supports 13 homes and programs in 6 different countries - India, Kenya, Mexico, Nicaragua, Uganda and United States. The HALO Foundation is committed to enhancing the living conditions and providing art therapy for orphans worldwide. Orphans supported by HALO are provided food, water, shelter, clothing, education, and art therapy. To learn more about HALO, visit

HALO Headquarter's are in Kansas City, MO where only where only two full time employees and one part time employee along with hundreds of dedicated HALO volunteers work diligently to serve youth in need worldwide. HALO has been providing outreach based art therapy to youth living in residential homes in Kansas City since it was founded. In the Spring of 2010, a space opened up in the Livestock Exchange Building where HALO was able to begin focusing on growing it's outreach program. This is where The HALO Learning Center was born.

The Center partners with local homeless shelters and residential homes to provide art therapy and life skills workshops to the youth living in these homes. The Center currently works with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Front Porch Alliance, Nile's Home for Children, reStart Inc.'s Family Emergency Shelter, and reStart Inc.'s Youth Emergency Shelter. Just like HALO, The HALO Learning Center is run primarily by volunteers. Local artists, craftsmen and professionals teach workshops based upon their skills set. We will attempt to spotlight the many volunteers, whom help us achieve our mission, through this blog. Look forward to learning more about how they give to our community's at-risk youth.

The HALO Learning Center has been structured to develop all programming around its Dream Campaign. The Dream Campaign is a future-focused campaign designed to guide each Member’s thinking to become more aware of their life dreams. The goal is to challenge the youth to visualize their dreams as well as document their progress toward achieving those dreams. The Dream Campaign is a 5-step process; with each completed step, Members will become closer to creating a sustainable future for themselves.

D ream
R espond
E ducate
A pply
M y Life
The Center is currently in the final stages of creating an apprenticeship program that will connect The Center's Members to professionals within our community where they will work one-on-one together, to help advance the Member's professional horizons. 

In the weeks to come, we will feature The Center's Members, volunteers, upcoming events, and HALO Center news. Stay tuned...