“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.”
We at Sangha Education Center are very proud of our mentees and their mentors… first and foremost for the people who they are! And for their accomplishments on projects and the skills they have developed along the way! Some mentors and mentees have been with us for a number of years. Watching everyone’s growth has been a joy! Our philosophy or Different Abilities Development Model with its “whole-child”, project-based learning framework has led the way by tapping into our youth’s inherent abilities.
Our Civic Mentoring program provides young people who have a range of abilities and needs with individualized peer mentoring experiences to utilize strengths and develop general interest areas and those related to college and career as they build skills in the process. Goal setting is based on the CPS ALSUP. Self-esteem naturally increases as mentees work on real-life projects. Below are some highlights about what we have been doing this past season moving forward into Spring 2021.
Many of our young people appreciate our living environment. And this year, with COVID-19, was the perfect time to embark on more nature-based projects, outdoors in the clean, fresh air… Jackson, for example, worked together with his mentor, Samantha, at Sweetbriar Nature Center to locate and identify local invasive and non-invasive plant species. Jackson used a phone app to identify certain plants and researched more about them to create a plant information guide. This guide will be used to educate about the benefits and relationships of certain plants he found in the butterfly house and other garden locations. Jackson will be assisting with a workshop at Sangha Education Center along the same lines with insight from a local arborist.
Another nature-themed project was embarked on by Marko and Matthew S. along with their mentors Sabrina and Steeve. They collaborated on the research and design of a Medicine Wheel Garden that will be located in Sangha Education Center’s Meadow Farm and began to practice wood-working skills towards building kiosks. The design for a Medicine Wheel Garden has symbolic meaning as well as practical plantings towards the healing and well-being of those involved. Our young people will begin implementing their design with the assistance of Farmer Regina in the Spring. We welcome the community at-large to participate on our Friday volunteer days! Other contributions to this project were made by Farmer Mike Roff and his student team at Stony Brook University via their Capstone Project. We look forward to their continued involvement!
Nature and art meet by way of “Laughing Laura’s Designs”! Laura and Samantha developed the Sangha Shop featuring Laura’s nature art and inspirational sayings on useful products that can be purchased via our website ecommerce system. Laura has inspired us all with her heart-felt sentiments to uplift people and help them to understand that we should all be valued for who we are and how we learn. David, another program participant, contributed to this project by designing the “Laughing Laura’s Designs” logo and assisting us in producing artwork via Photoshop. David’s graphic design ability is impressive! We look forward to more work in the design realm for this team.
In terms of design, we are very grateful to Brooke and her mentor, John who created the Sangha Education Center YouTube Channel and introduction video last season. They are now accessible via media icons at the bottom of our website pages. Brooke has been interested in creating videos and does so with the precision necessary to blend images and sound in a meaningful way! She had the opportunity to learn new tools from her mentor, John. Additionally, they came up with ideas for future projects using new media. Brooke has developed and taught lessons in the past, establishing leadership skills that continue to benefit her, other program participants and community partner organizations and schools with whom she has worked. She can now apply her leadership skills to new media by practicing skills and teaching others.
Last but not least, Matt P., has been interested in video production for quite some time. He has been honing his skills with us in a range of topic areas. Social justice has been a theme that runs through Matt’s videos including one on the census and a presentation entitled Check Your Privilege for the Women’s Diversity Network. This past season, he decided to approach a subject of importance to him… education reform. Matt’s passion about what works and what doesn’t within our school system is a topic of conversation he has had with his mentor Trevor and others. This season he highlighted the need for Universal Design for Learning and interviewed others in our Civic Mentoring program about their school experiences that became part of a Story Map. It is important to Matt that our young people’s voices be heard. Thanks to Laura, Samantha, and Matthew S. for their participation in the video interviews.
The location of Sangha Education Center at historic Malcolm House on the Jericho Preserve, provides much opportunity for our young people and the community at-large. We follow COVID-19 Safety Protocols, offering programs via Zoom, outdoors, in-person, and will be expanding into our Meadow Farm this season. We are truly creating “A Place of Wonder” by embracing the innate light in every individual where everyone gets to “find and follow their bliss”. Mentoring experiences can help our young people to find that place of wonder within themselves, enabling them to thrives into adulthood, more confident in their abilities while contributing to society in meaningful ways.