Saturday, September 3, 2011

Celebrating the end of Summer, Kicking off the school year with a bang

The HALO Center has been buzzing that last few weeks with all kinds of different events (in addition to our typical weekly workshops). It is with grateful thanks to our volunteers and donors that these events are cause for big celebrations.

Back-to-School Backpacks - The weeks of August 15th and 22nd were not only weeks of excitement and anxiousness for HALO Center kids as they prepared for another year of school. But they were also weeks of appreciation. The generosity of HALO Center supporters allowed us to provide all HALO Center Members with Back-to-School Backpacks. Not only did each youth get to chose their very own backpack, but they also got pens, pencils, notebooks, folders, crayons, glue, scissors, rulers and calculators. I believe that to succeed, you must be set up for success. Our Back-to-School backpacks are a small steps toward a year's worth of knowledge and growth.

End of Summer Movie Night - In honor of their good behavior and enthusiasm, we hosted a special movie night for reStart Family Shelter youth. 17 youth, 5 parents, 3 HALO Center volunteers and myself bonded over popcorn, apples, banana splits and The Diary of a Whimpy Kid this past Monday night. Our next big outing, with these youth, will be a trip to the Farmer's Market in River Market for fruits, veggies and spices which they will use to prepare a meal for their parents.

Niles Home for Children DREAM Journal Gallery Showing - Niles Home for Children youth have been working all summer in their DREAM Journals (two DREAM Journals featured below). The journals comprise a number of different activities that guide the youth through the DREAM Campaign by encouraging creativity, self-exploration and self-expression. By working with a number of different art mediums and forms, youth learned about themselves, as well as developed emotional intelligence and learned giving back. Wednesday we honored all the hard work these youth put into their DREAM Journals in an Art Gallery Showing. Youth self-priced their work - art was available for anywhere from $1 to $1600. When prompting a conversation about what to do with money made from the art work, I was prepared to offer suggestions: a pizza party, design your own shoes project, etc. I didn't need to present any of my ideas because immediately upon bringing up the topic, the Niles youth shouted, "Let's give the money to Mexico." It was a group consensus and a done deal - proceeds would go to the HALO supported Mexican orphans.

Volunteerism - If you have ever been in The Center, you have seen our DREAM Journal wall. This wall displays all of the activities included in the DREAM Journals. The journals are structured to progress through the activities, so we have a special order in which we do them. From the very first time the youth saw the DREAM wall, they have begged and begged and begged to do the Shoe project - designing a pair of white canvas shoes, Amyah's shoes are featured below. So when it finally came time to do the shoes, they were beyond excited. But, our Shoe project extends farther than just designing the shoes - and some youth had reservations. Each shoes has been specially bought, with reference to size, for children living in the HALO supported orphanage in Mexico. Most of the youth were all about designing shoes and sending love to Mexico; yet, a couple weren't keen on the idea and took some time to themselves. But after seeing everyone else enjoying the project, they participated. At the end of the project, the unenthusiastic teens had transformed into the most enthusiastic, running over to their featured artwork to show off the shoes made for Mexico. In fact, we have a future humanitarian in our midst - when asked what project Master, 8 years old, wanted to do on the 'free to do what you like' day, he screamed, "I wanna make a pillow. One for a Mexican kid and one for me. I wanna help all the kids, I'm gonna SAVE THE WORLD", ending with a super-hero-inspired save-the-world jump in the air.

Dream Page - The DREAM Page project is our first project in the DREAM Journals. It's purpose is to help visualize your dreams - to take the dreams that are inside your head and put them down on paper. It is a great way to remind yourself and to keep on track; and it is just as important to be able to share with others. Below is Master's dream page. He wants to build cars that have mattresses on top.

My Timeline - Youth created a timeline that shows important points in their past, as well as steps toward achieving their dream for the future. Below is Master's timeline.

Role Model Mobile - Looking up to someone and learning from their experiences can help you with your dreams. On the computer, youth researched professionals in their desired field or people who started off in their shoes. By gathering quotes, stories and pictures, they were able to create their very own inspiration mobile. Below is Kayondez's Role Model Mobile.

Garage Sale - Today we hosted a garage sale to benefit our upcoming Apprenticeship Program, set to begin October 10th. A huge thank you to those volunteers that helped out with the event, as well as those supporters who got a 'good deal for a good cause'. We are excited and encouraged to launch this new program.

Until next time,

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