“A mentor is not someone who walks ahead of you to show you how they did it. A mentor walks alongside you to show you what you can do.” This idea of “can do” is central to the community of care, cooperation and compassion that we have developed through our Civic Mentoring program.
On Giving Tuesday, we invite you to learn about and support Civic Mentoring, one of our heart-centered learning programs. This program enables young people with a range of abilities and needs to find meaning in learning, grow at their developmental pace, and be valued for who they are and how they learn. Our Civic Mentoring program participants may be gifted with a specific or comorbid disability such as ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, Asperger Syndrome/Autism, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and/or Anxiety including OCD.
At Sangha Education Center, we meet each individual where they are and bridge the gap between education and well-being. We strive to remedy the years of “learned-helplessness”, underachievement, bullying, and trauma that many of our program participants have faced resulting from the one-size-fits-all mind-set that developed in our schools and society. Within the current system, young people with learning differences are more likely than their typical peers to repeat a grade, face discipline and suspension, or drop out. Many have expressed disliking school or having poor relationships with teachers or peers. Additionally, transitioning to adulthood can be a challenge without the proper planning and support. Although a certain percentage of this population excel academically, they are often at an increased risk for anxiety disorders at the same time.
The compounding factors of the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to increased crises for adolescents such as chronic and acute stress and anxiety, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and depression. It’s imperative to have access to healthy, nurturing, and life-affirming activities as well as opportunities to receive support and make social connections under these circumstances.
Civic Mentoring offers a project-based learning framework which taps into our youth’s inherent abilities. We work with young people through individualized peer mentoring experiences to build various functional skills, explore interest areas, and embark on opportunities for career and college preparation. Self-esteem increases as they work on real-life projects based on goals established through our skills development plans. Professional oversight and guidance are provided on both the educational and social-emotional level and reductions in anxiety are monitored. Each season concludes with an assessment to measure student progress including increased abilities and skills that are transferable to life, school, and careers.
Several of our young adults embarked on various types of technology projects during 2021. Some projects included Python and C++ computer programming for the Raspberry Pi technology to create games and a plant watering system along with configuring hardware and the wiring system. Other projects undertaken by program participants related to photography, photo & video creation, editing and production. Some engaged in website e-commerce development, graphic art, and event planning and preparation via technology with their mentoring teams.
The lagging skills developed by current mentees who were working on completing these projects together included starting conversations, appreciating another person’s perspective, accurately interpreting social cues, persisting in challenging or tedious tasks and maintaining focus, handling transitions, shifting from one mindset or task to another, and seeing gray areas as opposed to being stuck in concrete “black & white” patterns of thinking. The insights gained and empowerment experienced has become a catalyst for moving forward in the pursuit of educational, career, or other life goals for all involved.
Some testimonials from our young people themselves are included here:
“I enjoyed that I got to learn more about computers and coding. I felt like my intellect has strengthened since learning about it. My favorite part of the season was that I got to make new friends and work together with them as a team. I also did work involving the medicine wheel garden. The medicine wheel garden was worked on by myself, Sabrina, Marko, Jackson, Trevor, James, and Steeve. This project is supposed to be a garden at Malcolm House that teaches visitors about multiple plant types and about Native American culture. It ties in with the plant identification project that Jackson was doing before, so we may plant some of the plants that Jackson was researching. My favorite part about this is the same as with the coding, it brought everyone together as a team and allowed us the opportunity of forming a friendship together.” – Matthew
“My experience this season with the Sangha Education Center has been extremely good. This is because I have been getting more experience with the Arduino computer system, which I have worked with in the past and I have gained experience in the C++ computer programming language. We intend to use it for a new irrigation system for the Sangha Education Center’s plants. Me and my fellow mentees also got to see our new Meadow Farm area which is set to include apple trees as well as stones we made in February with inspirational quotes and designs on them. All of these new discoveries and insights have made this season of Sangha Education Center one to remember, especially as we continue the journey to a new normal due to COVID.” – Jackson
“I definitely enjoyed and learned from the activities with which I was engaged throughout my experience/journey with Sangha. I enjoyed helping out Sabrina and Marko with the kiosks, hammering, nailing, measuring, wood-working, painting the frame, painting rocks. Basically, I enjoyed everything. It’s something different to do than sitting home and doing nothing all day. Doing wood-working, coming up with ideas for the fitness stations and being social with new people presents a positive outlook for ourselves. It’s a once in a while unforgettable experience.“ – Nicole
Please donate to prevent our young people from falling through the cracks. Your contributions will remove barriers to achievement and related environmental stressors, helping individuals to learn, grow and thrive into adulthood. Sangha is committed to ensuring that all learners have the opportunity to cultivate their abilities while their needs are simultaneously being met.
YOUR GIFT OF…
$50 = Contributes to art and carpentry supplies, tools, and other items for Civic Mentoring projects that enable the wide-range of opportunities we offer our young people to become a reality. Hands-on learning shifts the educational experience and increases well-being. Through engaging tech projects, young people with learning disabilities develop pragmatic life and social-emotional skills applicable to any setting.
$100 = Funds the Civic Mentoring program, off-setting the years of challenge our young people have faced and validates them for who they are and how they learn. Without these skill-building methods, challenges would continue to impact their college, career and general life functioning. Sangha Education Center has been able to provide our Civic Mentoring program through a combination of moderate fees and the generosity of individual donors. Your support enables a meaningful life direction for our youth.
$500 = Supports Civic Mentoring by providing specialized technology to teach skills of high interest to young people with learning differences using methods that have been intrinsic to previous successes. The need for state-of-the-art technology for media projects will ensure program sustainability. Our current technology is slow and outdated. We need laptops with enough video memory to handle graphic work and a digital camera enabling professional-level results and further creative options.
All gifts, large or small, will positively impact the lives of our young people. We appreciate your generosity.