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Let’s Talk Wellness – Tips from Family Services

Let’s talk wellness!!

Self-care is an imperative part of wellness. As social worker, I have always been encouraged and taught that self-care is an important part of our profession. In my experience, I realized that it’s not just important for social worker but is an important part of everyone’s health and overall wellbeing.

What does wellness mean?

The National Wellness Institute defines wellness as the “active process of becoming aware of and making choices toward a more successful existence.” Wellness is a process that consists of increasing awareness and choosing options that result in growth and balance.

At A Step Beyond we know that our youth are making life choices that impact their health in significant ways. Our youth face difficult situations and struggles with, school, peers, relationships, family dynamics, and stress. We make sure our students have access to a social worker and social work interns, and have the opportunity to talk about their wellness, meeting in small groups, and for one-on-one check-ins. During these sessions they are encouraged to evaluate their own health and their current life habits and to set goals that they choose and that they believe are important to build a healthy life. Our goal is when our students leave our organization, they will have the skills and tools to live a happier and healthier life.

Here are some suggestions to help you reach your own personal wellness goals!

  1. Use a Strength Approach – Remember that self-care is a process and we do not have a perfect self-care plan. Switch negative thoughts to positive thinking!
  2.  Create SMART plan – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-Limited.
  3. Enlist Support – Enlist support from people, group support, calendar reminders, books, and other materials.
  4. Set Aside Time to Reflect – You may do this alone or in conversation. Reflecting will help you think about what is working for you or not. How have you been feeling? What do you need to reach your own personal wellness?

Remember that everyone’s approach is different and self-care takes practice, but the journey can result in positive wellbeing. A Step Beyond values the well-being of each and every person, and encourages you to take the steps to enhance you own personal well-being.

Below are some recommendations and suggestions for the different aspects of self-care

Workplace or professional Self-Care

This involves activities that help you to work consistently at the professional level expected of you. For example:

  • Engage in regular supervision or consulting with a more experienced colleague
  • Set up a peer-support group
  • Be strict with boundaries between clients/students and staff
  • Read professional journals
  • Attend professional development programs.

Physical Self-Care

Activities that help you to stay fit and healthy, and with enough energy to get through your work and personal commitments.

  • Develop a regular sleep routine.
  • Aim for a healthy diet.
  • Take lunch breaks.
  • Go for a walk at lunchtime.
  • Take your dog for a walk after work.
  • Use your sick leave.
  • Get some exercise before/after work regularly.

Psychological Self-Care

Activities that help you to feel clear-headed and able to intellectually engage with the professional challenges that are found in your work and personal life.

  • Keep a reflective journal.
  • Seek and engage in external supervision or regularly consult with a more experienced colleague.
  • Engage with a non-work hobby.
  • Turn off your email and work phone outside of work hours.
  • Make time for relaxation.
  • Make time to engage with positive friends and family.

Emotional Self-Care

Allowing yourself to safely experience your full range of emotions.

  • Develop friendships that are supportive.
  • Write three good things that you did each day.
  • Go to the movies or do something else you enjoy.
  • Talk to you friend about how you are coping with work and life demands.

Spiritual Self-Care

This involves having a sense of perspective beyond the day-to-day of life.

  • Engage in reflective practices like meditation.
  • Go to church/mosque/temple.
  • Do yoga.
  • Reflect with a close friend for support.
  • Download the 1 Giant Mind app and learn mindfulness.
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A Step Beyond featured in Voice of San Diego

A Step Beyond: Empowering Underserved Youth With Dance, Academic Support & Family Services

By Erin Coller

Escondido-based nonprofit A Step Beyond is taking a unique approach to help local children succeed in school and end the poverty cycle, by focusing on dance and teaching children starting in third grade how to express themselves creatively after school while also focusing on academics and family life.

A Step Beyond targets youth living in poverty in North County San Diego through a comprehensive dance, academics and family services program. The location was strategically selected based upon San Diego Workforce Partnership research showing a high poverty rate in the area, as well as a significant rate of youth between the ages of 16-24 who are not working and are not in school. Students begin their 10-year commitment with A Step Beyond beginning in third grade. A goal has been set by A Step Beyond for 100 percent of students to graduate from high school and finish college degrees, in comparison to what is likely to be a low percentage of their peer group who will achieve the same accomplishments.

In operation since 2014, A Step Beyond offers a unique creative youth development program model which has demonstrated success in other states and is the first of its kind in San Diego. The program combines creative arts, academic support and family services for each of the 40 students per year who enroll, with an annual concert and community performances giving the children an opportunity to showcase the skills they have mastered.

A Step Beyond relies on community support through volunteers and donations, and a key partner for the organization is San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E). The support from SDG&E focuses on the summer program which aims to help address issues of summer reading loss. Many students fall behind in reading and language skills during the summer and can begin to disengage when they return to school in the fall because they are below the level of their peers.

With SDG&E’s support through the Inspiring Future Leaders giving initiative, the summer program will focus on the nature of environmental challenges, related inquiry, and personal responsibility in this context, the participants (ages 9-12) introduce a cohort of low-income children to various strands of STEM learning.

According to A Step Beyond Artistic Director Jennifer Oliver, research findings show that through the pursuit of mastery in dance, students obtain the habits and skills necessary to achieve their future goals. Dancing provides the opportunity for children to be present in the moment and to navigate and make decisions based upon prediction of outcomes, skills that all translate to other areas of life and lead to success in school and beyond.

Oliver explained that the organization’s goal from the outset was to find the most effective way of targeting children to overcome the cycle of poverty, and the program was designed based on research showing that it is very important to target students at a young age, specifically at the third-grade level. Many children who disengage with school begin doing so in third grade starting with reading loss and leading to total disengagement with the system—a cycle that A Step Beyond is strategically working to stop.

The academic focus of A Step Beyond’s program includes tutoring for students with an open academic lab which they are required to attend for three years. After three years, the students can attend the academic lab by choice if they maintain a grade point average above 3.0, and are required to attend if it falls below that level. A Step Beyond also employs a full-time licensed clinical social worker who works with students and their families in counseling and small group sessions to help ensure a healthy and supportive setting at home which is crucial to success in school and in creative after-school activities.

Photo by Angela and Ithyle

Children who participate begin with an introductory week-long dance program taught in several local schools to all third-grade students, and those who are interested based on their experience can choose to audition. The team at A Step Beyond is then faced with the difficult task of selecting 40 students out of approximately 160 who audition.

“With the focus on dance, students are getting the after-school activity they desire—something fun and creative, with the opportunity to express their unique voice, to be celebrated, and to produce something that they have ownership over,” said Oliver. Students also benefit from the mentorship model and have expressed a desire to work alongside professionals in the field and produce professional-caliber results. Through this type of creative youth development program, we can change the trajectory of students’ lives and stop the cycle of poverty.”

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We are Hiring! – Academic Facilitator

A Step Beyond is hiring!  As we expand our academic support for our youth, we need a new staff member to think about high school and college and career readiness.  If you are interested in working with our team of dedicated creative youth development professionals, speak spanish and have experience supporting  youth in their academic pursuits, this might be the perfect fit for you!

APF Position

Linked-In posting

Send a cover letter and resume to hiring@a-step-beyond.org  ASAP! We are interviewing now!

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ASB featured in Onside News North County

(Photo: Angela Kohler)

A Step Beyond and the California Center For The Arts Invites You to a Groundbreaking Event

Escondido CA— Join us on Friday, May 4th at 11:30 am on campus at California Center for the Arts, Escondido, to help us celebrate the official groundbreaking of the Dave Langlois Children’s Center, a multi-use office space serving the youth and families of A Step Beyond.

About A Step Beyond

A Step Beyond is an after school Creative Youth Development program helping underserved youth break the cycle of poverty through offering dance training, academic support, and family services to over 140 students from Escondido and San Marcos.

A Step Beyond opened its doors to its first cohort in 2014 and continues to welcome a new class of 3rd and 4th graders each fall while continuing to train and educate our older students.  A Step Beyond will reach its full capacity in Fall of 2022 when it plans to be serving 350 students in grades 3 through 12.  The ultimate goal of A Step Beyond is to empower underserved youth to transform their lives, families, and communities and to prepare them for college and career.

The new Dave Langlois Children’s Center will house A Step Beyond’s administrative offices, family counseling center, and student and parent learning centers. It is named for Dave Langlois, a homebuilder and philanthropist with a heart for underserved youth, and is underwritten by a generous matching grant from the Fieldstone Foundation.  Pardee Homes, the builder captain, is managing the entire construction.

A Step Beyond is located at California Center for the Arts, 340 N. Escondido Blvd. in Escondido. A Step Beyond’s Office can be reached at (760) 670-3250.  To learn more, including performance dates for our upcoming student concert, and further information, visit a-step-beyond.org.

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Featuring ASB Supporters, The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation

The Lawrence Welk Family Foundation

Bandleader and television personality Lawrence Welk was one of eight children born to German/Russian immigrant parents in North Dakota. While winters were grim and money was tight, the family found joy in singing and dancing together. Lawrence left his family farm in North Dakota on his 21st birthday with an accordion, the clothes on his back, a fourth grade education and command only of the German language. He took his musical talent and joyful spirit with him as he traveled the Midwest playing at barn dances, on local radio and, eventually, in dance halls around the country.  In 1951 KTLA television broadcast his show and the effervescent sound of his “Champagne Music” was heard across the nation, every Saturday night for the next 30 years.

Welk never forgot his humble beginnings, speaking fondly about his family and birthplace, where he said he was taught to work, share and live “according to God’s laws.” In 1960, the family-oriented bandleader with a penchant for “treating people right” founded the Lawrence Welk Family Foundation. He believed deeply in the importance of a nurturing family and the opportunity for all to live with dignity. In keeping with this, the Lawrence Welk Family Foundation supports grass-roots organizations that demonstrate a long-term commitment to the under served children and families participating in their programs.

Executive Director, Lisa Parker says, “A Step Beyond is the perfect nonprofit partner for us. ASB takes the same love of music and dance that kept our Granddad’s feet tapping to ignite the creative spark in its students while, at the same time, demonstrating a long term commitment to supporting them and their families on and off the dance floor. My grandfather really believed in investing in youth so they could prosper as individuals and as future leaders. ASB’s programs, administration and leadership are among the most thoughtful and effective we have encountered in our decades of doing this work. I wish my Granddad could see it for himself. I can see the ear to ear smile and twinkle in his eye he would surely have.”

The leadership role passed from mother to daughter in 1997 when Welk’s granddaughter Lisa Parker took over as President and Executive Director. Today, second and third generations of the Welk family serve on the Board of Directors and the 20 members of the 4th generation are now the Junior Board.  This “G4” Junior Board participates in an annual “philanthropy camp” that includes volunteering and service projects, fundraising, site visits to area nonprofits and grantmaking.

Examples of G4 Projects:

  1. One year the Board offered to match any funds the younger family members aged four to 14 could raise for an air conditioner needed at a therapeutic pre-school for abused and neglected children. The family was together at a family meeting at a San Diego resort at the time, and the members of the fourth generation set out in teams selling Krispy Kreme doughnuts to golfers. The younger family members exceeded their goal of $1,200 which was doubled with the help of the Foundation’s matching funds, and were jubilant in their capacity to make a difference. Having a fun but meaningful way of being engaged at such an early age has the capacity to impact many aspects of future philanthropic leadership. In addition to helping to continue the spirit of joyful generosity of the Welk family, a project like this also helps to develop team-building skills and build deeper relationships among cousins who may someday serve as board members.
  2. When one of Welk’s grandsons adopted two girls from China, the family members asked the adoption agency what might be done for other children in China. When they learned about a young boy with a cleft palate. Each of the Welk households got mason jars with a picture of the young man on them so they could collect pocket change at the end of each day for the cause. The effort was infectious. Teenage friends of the family were inspired to donate their allowances to the jar. Board members also personally chipped in.

“We came together with much fanfare at the annual meeting and counted all this change,” says Lisa.

Ultimately, the family raised more than $7,000–enough to help six additional children.

We have also done beach cleanups, planted organic gardens and built bikes for homeless youth.

Today, three generations of the extended Welk family, ages eleven to eighty-five, give and volunteer together in order to nurture community engagement and the philanthropic spirit across generations and over the course of a lifetime.

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Artistic Director, Jennifer Oliver – North County Feature

Read more about the feature on our Artistic Director, Jennifer Oliver, in the North County Union Tribune!

 

Q: What are your goals as artistic director?

A: Ultimately I seek to create a safe, desirable and enriching space for our youth to come to after school; a place where they feel confident as individuals while feeling connected to a community, a place where their basic needs are met while being challenged artistically and academically, and a place where they feel accepted and loved. I want every child to feel the love of our staff lift them up and push them toward a better future. Read More.

 

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ASB Featured in the Union Tribune!

What a great way to end 2017. Artistic Director, Jennifer Oliver was invited to share her thoughts on “Why the arts matter” in a year-end feature in Sunday’s paper. If you didn’t get the chance to read the hard copy, you can read the online version here.

By dancing, we will come together as a community, we will build strength and flexibility, and we will face challenges and overcome them. Even more importantly, we will take up space unapologetically, feel powerful in our bodies, and celebrate our diverse, creative choices.   – Oliver


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Voices of San Diego Feature!

Voices of San Diego Chooses A Step Beyond to Feature!

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Third Annual Concert Success!

For those who couldn’t make it, here is a trailer for our Third Annual Concert with choreography first by Karla Navarro and the second piece by Jennifer Oliver.

 

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Inspiring Future Scholars

Read our latest piece entitled, Inspiring Future Scholars, published by Americans for the Arts on the collaboration between A Step Beyond and California State San Marcos’s Dance Studies program with Karen Schaffman.

 

 

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