This summer flew by and we had an amazing summer working with our Discover LI Youth.
I’ve spent the last couple of days reflecting on the amazing work that a handful of families and their awesome children accomplished over the summer with our pilot program, “Discover Long Island with Momee Friends”. Earlier in the year, Anne and I met with our friend, Geriann, to discuss the possibility of working with the “tweens” in our community. What drives them? What interests them? What positive energy can we draw upon to bring them together in fun and meaningful ways?
We reached out to various businesses around Long Island and pitched our idea of introducing them to the tweens as Community Mentors, the idea that somehow these kids would really get to know the people behind the businesses on Long Island. Our goal was to bring the kids together to make new friends and to participate in team-building activities that promote respect, acceptance, and cooperation. We would collaborate with the mentors by incorporating a service project and would give back to the community.
We invited our Shining Child of the Month from February, Lana Moreno, to be our Junior Mentor to help us to inspire and lead her peers in organizing a fundraising and food drive event for our community. For the past year and a half, Lana has been collecting donations for local food pantries, as well as selling shirts and jewelry online using the revenue to purchase food to donate. She calls her vision to end world hunger, “Lana’s World Hunger Dream”.
Together with Gabriel Espinoza and Desmond Harggett of NY Dart Zone, and Coaches Ray Bettinelli and Kevin Bailey of BCBA Community Sports Training Center, Lana and the kids from DiscoverLI were able to collect over 600 lbs of non-perishable food donations for Long Island Cares Harry Chapin Food Bank.
There were 3 main concepts that we focused on with the group – I AM, I CAN and I WILL. For the first two weeks, we focused on getting to know each other by first recognizing all the positive qualities we all possess, and after sharing their thoughts, the kids saw how they all shared similar qualities. Several kids shared that they were kind, caring, smart, giving, and helpful. Dani Viskovich of LILA Family Yoga introduced the kids to some fun and empowering yoga techniques to help them realize that they are “strong like a tree, flexible like its branches, grounded like its roots” and that they can accomplish anything!
Next we focused on all the positive things they were capable of doing. One by one they shared all the amazing things they could do from helping their families around the house to showing off all the fun and unique talents they had, even declaring that they could CHANGE THE WORLD!
We were grateful to have connected with Justin Stone at Air Trampoline, who provided us with the space for the kids to make beautiful self-portrait sculptures, as well as create and design T-shirt bags which the kids used to collect their donations.
The best up-cycling project was the washer necklaces that the kids made to sell at their Get Fit FUNdraiser & Food Drive. With a little bit of nail polish and a whole lot of love and creativity, the kids made beautiful pieces of jewelry, and sold quite a few for charity.
Finally, the last concept focused on I WILL – a personal agreement with themselves and each other to continue to do great things, to be mindful of the people around them, and to raise awareness about the greater needs of their community. Several kids shared potential service projects that they would like to do on their own and with the help of their new found friends! In a short amount of time they turned a concept into a reality, the idea that we belong to something greater than ourselves, and accomplished what only true friendship and altruism can produce.
Get Fit FUNdraiser & Food Drive
On behalf of Momee Friends, I would like to thank Victoria Moreno who led the group in our amazing Zumba-thon, Kershel Anthony who kept our blood flowing and energy pumping while we participated in Kerboomkidz. Darren Sardelli kept us laughing with his Laugh-A-Lot Poetry, and our friends at ASL Discoveries who taught us how to sign with some familiar songs. Gina from ImaGINAtion face painting is an incredible talent who we recommend highly for your next event. Spoonful of Sugar Entertainment always brings a magical touch to our events and they are amazing at what they do. We love NY DART ZONE and their positive energy. As well as Coach Ray and Coack Kevin of BCBA Community Sports Center. This day would of never of been so successful without all of your efforts and they are so very much appreciated. We thank all of you for always being an amazing support and sharing your talents with us. We would also like to thank all our vendors who donated their time and resources to help our event be the success that it was.
A very special THANK YOU to our Junior Mentor, Lana Moreno and to all our Discover LI kids! You are an amazing group of kids who will no doubt CHANGE THE WORLD!
Check out our fun summer in the video below: