My experience of this mini-grant was one where the kids that attended the Theater Appreciation/Monologue Acting Workshop were free to express themselves in their own, unique way. They expressed what they wanted to get out of the workshop, what they came to work on, and what their biggest “take-aways” at the end of the 2-hour workshop. I experienced them experiencing connection with everyone there, a safe and sacred space, creating value through creative self-expression, exploring their passions, and building their experience/expertise and knowledge around that workshop’s topics. We could’ve stayed longer than the 2 hour-window we had set and scheduled for this specific workshop! The participants/kids attending had shown real potential and talent in their self-chosen monologue acting, expressed their gratitude for the workshop and those other participants/kids around them in the workshop as well as myself leading it, and really impressed the adults there including myself with what words they used when sharing from their hearts all the way down to their performances at the end. They exhibited diversity amongst themselves with very different, relatable monologues that resonated with them and performed in their own, beautiful ways often using the word “dynamic” in what they wanted to work on and accomplish in the workshop. Hearing them share what value they created in those 2 hours warmed my heart. I see bright futures for these young actors and would love to do something like this again as soon as possible! The value in building confidence in these kids and connecting with them truly is priceless.
On November 10, SPARC was able to complete its first online training with over 60 Early Head Start center owners and staff under the Early Learning Coalition. The training was a professional edition of an earlier training presented to families last year at BRIDGES Riviera Beach (also thanks to the HN Mini-Grant). With this year’s grant, I was able to upgrade the training, the Zoom platform membership, and utilize new technology (a tablet) to offer a more stable and engaging online training experience. The participants loved the training! As the presenter, any anxiety I had was whisked away as I engaged with such an amazing group of professionals dedicated to the the children and families they serve and help. When I finished the workshop and signed off, I wiped away happy tears. This, I knew, was at the heart of what SPARC Guidance can and will do for the community. My goal with this business is to continue to offer the 4 A’s (Awareness, Acceptance, Affirmation, and Advocacy) for families affected by autism/developmental delays, and the professionals who work for and alongside them.
October 10 is World Mental Health Day each year and this year New Song Church hosted the first Mental Health & The Church Conference in partnership with Palm Beach Atlantic University School of Education & Behavioral Studies.New Song Church was proud to receive $2000 for the 2020 HN granting term. We used those funds as part of the Mental Health and the Church Virtual Conference which was held from 9-4 pm with an after party at 7:30 pm. The conference had 50 people registered (13 of those were youth). The goal of the conference was connecting spirituality and mental health care for diverse communities. This conference was unique in that it also included giving a scholarship of $1,000 to a local Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) Student studying Mental Health Counseling as well as 20 sessions of free counseling to community residents (Covered by the other $1000 from grant $1000). This year Valery Hildago was selected as the scholarship winner. She has a 4.0 GPA at PBA and is eager to support communities of color in mental health counseling. Coach Debbie serves as our Mental Health ministry Leader and coordinated the New Song Mental Health & The Church Conference to shine a light on soul care, resiliency, social justice, suicide prevention, youth services, eating disorders, human trafficking, and emotional health during COVID-19.Debbie leads our ministry where she presents Training & Professional Development opportunities for Churches and Counselors on building mental health awareness, provides low cost and free clinical counseling, navigation and/or referrals services to the community, and lastly, provides support groups such as our YouMoms partnership or Substance Abuse partnership. YouMoms helps mentor teen moms and the substance abuse partnership partners professional men to mentor young men in recovery. The HN grant funds helped provide 20 free sessions to local women. To share a few of their stories within confidentially, one lost their son due to gun violence, one lost their job due to COVID, and one is a single mother who needs parenting coaching and counseling. We provided seamless access to care without a delay in time for service. Thank you HN for an incredible grant experience, your support helped us reach our goal to help the community improve behavioral health and wellness!