One of our Growing Leaders speakers is Michael Hirsch. In addition to helping us equip staff and students, he serves as Executive Director of Loveworks. I asked him to do a guest blog to let you see how he and his team are transforming young at-risk teens into leaders in Norman, Oklahoma. Enjoy his words below.
It’s a Thursday afternoon with over 100 students and volunteer leaders bustling about the Afterschool Leadership Program. Two volunteers high-five in the hallway as one shouts “There’s never a dull moment at Loveworks!” This has quickly become a mantra between dozens of the volunteers who gather three days a week to mentor at-risk middle school students.
In our hometown of Norman, Oklahoma you will find lots of crimson pride as fans cheer proudly for OU football. But what few realize is that recent surveys indicate nearly 43% of students attending a middle school within the Norman Public School District live within the government deemed poverty levels. A study by Gallup indicated students surveyed, 37% are classified as not engaged in school and not hopeful when asked questions about their goals and aspirations for the future.
What will happen to the hope and dreams of these children? Without intervention, many of them will never get to live out the future they deserve. That is why Loveworks exists!
Loveworks Outreach, Inc. is an organization committed to helping break the destructive cycle of poverty by impacting the lives of at-risk middle school students.
The launch of Afterschool Leadership in 2011 ignited a mission to see students discover their potential and live into their dreams through various program initiatives that include academic, leadership and mentorship components. Through weekly tutoring sessions and actively participating in lessons focused on life choices, leadership skills, and character development, students have the opportunity to be affirmed in their identity, realize their potential, and actively pursue their ideas and dreams. Our desire is to guide and shape the fundamental aspects within the life of a youth, so that they can learn to make positive life choices and overcome destructive behaviors.
By intentionally focusing on the development of youth in the Norman area, we have an impact in our city and cultivate strong citizens that contribute to society.
Each day of the program, students participate in sessions of character building and mentoring, followed by academic tutoring. Additional focus is to engage the students to learn from a variety of different community leaders through participation in concept areas that will expand their skills and knowledge, including the following: culinary, architecture, fashion, music, and many others.
“We credit a large part of the success of Afterschool Leadership to the Habitudes curriculum that is used each week. The students actively engage in each lesson through multi-media, interactive games and practical discussion questions. Habitudes brings leadership to life in their eyes!”
With the support of Governor Mary Fallin and numerous other community leaders, Loveworks is looking to expand across the state and establish a model for cities around the nation. What a privilege to shape leaders of the next generation!
More information is available at www.loveworksoutreach.com.
Michael Hirsch, Executive Director of Loveworks Outreach, Inc.
Where do you see people or organizations making a difference in the lives of students?
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