Friday, July 28, 2023

Feel Good Friday - TeenLife

It’s Feel Good Friday, it’s technically still summer so let’s talk about an organization that connects teens of all backgrounds to out-of-school summer and gap year opportunities, TeenLife.

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, TeenLife started as a resource guide. When Marie Schwartz was unable to find information on summer camps and community service programs geared towards teens, she compiled her own. The first  Guide to Overnight Summer Programs was such a success she founded TeenLife Media and has been connecting parents, students and educators to experiential learning opportunities ever since.

TeenLife provides a comprehensive online directory of STEM, gap year, pre-college, overnight summer and community service programs for students in grades 7-12. Go to the website to review flagship print guides focused on: Summer Programs, Gap Year Programs, Performing and Visual Arts Colleges, Online Learning and College Admissions. If your teen is curious about a particular profession, there are specific print guides with information on careers in healthcare, STEM, the arts and business.

You can also search through over 13,000 program options online. There are summer programs, gap year programs, after-school enrichment programs, volunteer opportunities, and information on private schools, colleges, universities and service providers. To help narrow the decisions down, you can filter by category, destination, session length, ages, cost and many more. With so many options to choose from, browsing the content at TeenLife helps teens, parents, and educators make strong enrichment-program decisions.

Some examples of the programs TeenLife connects you to include: the Sally Ride Science Academy at UC San Diego, offering STEAM workshops for students who assume the roles of space explorer, marine biologist, or computer programmer as they immerse themselves in hands-on projects; ArtsBridge Gap Year in Newton, Mass., a 15-week virtual intensive actor training program designed to be a bridge between the high school and the college experience; and the Parsons Paris Online Program, offering flexible, online courses in fashion design, business, branding, and sustainability in fashion. I’d like to apply for some of these programs myself!

By registering with TeenLife, you’ll receive news about opportunities that match your interests. If you’re not looking for a program to join but would like to support the work being done by Teen Life Media, like their Facebook page and follow them on LinkedIn and on Instagram @teenlifemedia 

Friday, July 21, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary

While my California road trip has technically come to an end, I can’t resist writing about one more organization I discovered while on the road, the Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary

Founded by Carlen and Jim Eckford in 2018 and headquartered in Arroyo Grande, the mission of the Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary is “to reduce misperceptions about donkeys which can often lead to their mistreatment and/or abandonment and to support and give homeless or mistreated donkeys, a good safe, loving and healthy lifetime home, provide them shelter, feed, vet care, medicines, exercise and LOVE!” 

The Eckfords were inspired to create Rancho Burro after an encounter with an abandoned, neglected donkey named Harry who they tried to save. The sanctuary spans 10 acres and can house 15 donkeys. Current residents were rescued from a variety of situations such as kill shelters, ranches and roadsides. Volunteers at the sanctuary help by giving the donkeys love and attention, exercise and grooming, and also by cleaning the stalls and field areas.

Right now, the team at Rancho Burro is raising funds for a new 45-acre sanctuary in San Luis Obispo, which will allow them to rescue and house up to 50 donkeys. There are also plans to do community outreach and provide equine therapy for developmentally disabled children and adults. Hear from the founders, and see some of the donkeys, by watching this short news clip.

If you want to learn more about the donkeys at Rancho Burro you can click on their pictures and read their individual rescue stories. From there you’re able to sponsor a donkey for as little as $35 a month. With a little planning you can organize a visit to the sanctuary to meet the donkeys in person.

The final ways to support Rancho Burro Donkey Sanctuary are to make a general donation and spread the word on social media. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Instagram @rancho.burro.donkey.sanctuary.

Friday, July 14, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Plant It Again

It’s Feel Good Friday and I’m in sunny San Diego, home of a relatively new nonprofit organization, Plant It Again.

Founded in 2020 by San Diego teen, Olivia Kries, the team at Plant It Again (PIA) recycles drought tolerant plants back into local communities and creates meaningful employment for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Their vision is “to create an innovative center that not only educates but integrates all members of our diverse community.”

Olivia got the idea for PIA when she saw her mom discarding succulent trimmings. She felt this was wasteful and knew she could take a clipping and plant it again, hence the name of the organization. The PIA team hopes that by recycling and selling donated yard cuttings and plants, they will inspire and educate the public on the many benefits of succulent gardening and landscaping. Watch this 3-minute video to learn more about the origin story and see Olivia and the team.

PIA provides job opportunities and training to adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Since opening three years ago, they’ve created six paid positions in roles such as plant donation processors, arrangement designers, sales clerks, and class instructors. PIA has also hosted over 1,000 hours community engagement for people with moderate to severe developmental and intellectual disabilities.

If you want to help this new nonprofit grow, there are many ways to do so. People living in the San Diego area can visit the store to buy some plants or donate old gardening tools, pots, and other items to be refurbished and sold to raise funds. The rest of us can make a donation and stay in the loop on social media. Follow Plant It Again on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram @plantitagai

Friday, July 7, 2023

Feel Good Friday - Coastal Performing Arts Foundation

Time for a Feel Good Friday road trip! As I make my way down the coast of California towards San Diego, I’m finding organizations along the way that are doing good work. One that speaks to the performer in me is the Coastal Performing Arts Foundation.

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Pismo Beach, the vision of the Coastal Performing Arts Foundation is “to provide high quality theatrical experiences and outreach programs in performing arts for the youth of the Central Coast.”

The reason they focus on performing arts is explained on their website. “We passionately believe that when young people have opportunities to grow and flourish by participating in exceptional training and professional quality theatrical productions, they are becoming not only the next generation of artists and art appreciators, but the next generation of engaged citizens: empowered to commit, focus, communicate, and energetically participate in a collaborative process.”

The foundation runs three performing arts programs. Coastal Chamber Youth Ballet and Coastal Youth Theater are self explanatory. The third program, Beyond Boundaries, is for young people with disabilities. Students are introduced to music and movement, which allows them an outlet for opening up and communicating in ways they may have not yet been exposed to. It can provide confidence to all the students, especially those who have difficulty communicating verbally.

All three of these groups have performances that the community can attend. Coast Youth Theater is currently holding auditions for their fall performance of “The Addams Family - A New Musical Comedy” and “The Little Mermaid” is on the calendar for spring 2024.

If you’d like to help young people in the coastal communities of California get involved in the performing arts, there are many ways to do so. Coastal Youth Theater is hiring choreographers for their upcoming shows. If attending shows is more your speed, you can support Coastal Performing Arts Foundation with a donation and by amplifying their work on social media. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram @costalpaf.