When Kids Creating Change was introduced at Bonterra, Resident Services Coordinator Ashley knew it was perfect for youth, who especially need positive relationships with peers, as well as adult role models and mentors. She also knew that the program sponsored by the Orange County Family Justice Center would be a great fit with the first attribute of Jamboree’s REACH after-school program: Relationships in a safe and supportive environment.
In our mission to develop high quality affordable housing and services that transform lives and strengthen communities, REACH – an acrostic for a model that focuses on five simple values – is our approach to delivering customized services that enrich the lives of residents in measureable ways. Starting with students in our after-school programs, REACH Kids encourages the success of students at our properties and the surrounding neighborhood, not just academically at school, but also for work and life.
The first value of REACH focuses on developing the social and emotional skills to make personal connections with others. This requires a supportive environment where students know they are safe physically and emotionally in order to share their thoughts and opinions. In the Kids Creating Change program at Bonterra, a facilitator helps create a safe, open forum for students to discuss positive ways they can use their hands instead of using them to physically fight with another person. Students are encouraged to work together, open a dialogue, and speak freely.
Project Me at Monarch Point provides an opportunity for girls and women ages 13 to 50 to connect as a family over the topic of self-care. This program is strengthening relationships between kids and parents, who are able to frankly discuss how the mothers in the group encourage their kids to “reach for the stars,” but don’t imagine the same goal for themselves. Working together, they create small weekly tasks that will eventually allow them both to accomplish their goals. And, Project Me is going so well that a daylong retreat is in the works to share successes and further relationships.
Students are learning to speak up and be part of the planning for the activities in their after-school program at Montecito Vista. And at Rockwood, kids of formerly homeless families – who are now in a safe, stable home – are creating relationships with peers and adults alike. In turn, this is sparking generosity throughout the year as they eagerly look for ways to give back to others – from the holidays to Random Acts of Kindness week this month.
At another Jamboree community, Resident Services Coordinator Crystal arranges for one-on-one coaching sessions for students, provided by Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Alliance. Students sign up for 15-minute sessions every week and choose the topic they would like to discuss, such as healthy relationships with siblings and stress management.
Another way to establish physical and emotional safety is by creating agreements about how students and adults will interact with one another. At Granite Court, students create their own mission statements. Resident Services Coordinator Stella is also working with parents to help keep the students on track with their mission statements. Students came up with mission statements such as: “My mission is to laugh a lot, be kind to others” and “My mission is to inspire people with my plays and help people in their lives.”
And this one, a good summary of REACH relationship learning: “My mission is to be responsible and to be a good human who remains confident and funny.”