Sunday, April 30th
Dr. Jennifer Freed and fellow psychotherapist and educator Renny Freedman founded AHA! in Santa Barbara in 1999 as a life-affirming response to the Columbine tragedy. Their objective was to create a program that would help vulnerable teens feel connected and safe.
The AHA! program is designed to help teens develop essential skills like managing their moods, self-awareness, self-motivation, empathy, and compassion through the use of games, icebreakers, and trust activities, where teens and adults play together. The strong relationship that develops between teens and their adult mentors makes the program unique and deeply effective.
AHA! began as a summer program only, largely staffed by artists and social-emotional learning experts who volunteered to work with the youth. Its initial success was quickly followed by an invitation to work with students at La Cuesta Continuation High School, then the Carpinteria and Santa Barbara High Schools.
The Santa Barbara News Press reported that the AHA! Peace Builders Program is “transforming local schools and the wider community by empowering youth to be the leaders in the effort to create safer, more joyful communities. PB teens learn to peacefully interrupt bullying and prejudice and use curiosity, humor, and positive engagement to create more mutually accepting communities.” Impressive!
Not only has AHA! been endorsed locally, but it was also been recognized as one of the top youth programs in the country. A Chicago-based philanthropist has subsequently asked AHA’s help in establishing a national curriculum for social and emotional learning.
Today AHA! has grown from a grassroots movement into a nationally recognized foundation, hailed as one of the top eight after school programs in America. AHA! works to prevent bullying and violence and to promote character, conscience, leadership and social-emotional intelligence.
This year’s show is a highlight of three months of mentoring and training by 12 amateur singers – several of whom have never sung before (much less publicly).
Please plan to support this remarkable local Santa Barbara organization and the accomplishments of these 12 young adults at their event on Sunday, April 3oth.