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Brenda Coleman Shares the Power of Mentoring and the University for Parents

Rotary of Atlanta West End moved their weekly meeting to Atlanta Technical College. Club members were impressed with the school's conference center, the skills of students who served as our AV techs, the delicious lunch prepared by the college's culinary arts program, and the updates from club member Dr. Victoria Seals and her staff. Neil Shorthouse introduced Ms. Brenda Coleman, Executive Director of the Atlanta CARES Mentoring Movement, a project of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, as our speaker for the day. Brenda began by citing a saying of famed African Maasai Warriors who always were known to ask, “How are the Children?” and usually the honest reply of their fellow countrymen and women came back, “The children are well.” But Brenda was quick to point out with sadness that way too many of our children today in Atlanta are not ‘well.’ She noted that we are a city of ‘haves’ and extreme ‘have nots’ … with haves disguising the number and plight of the have nots … and the tragic impact on thousands of children harshly affected by poverty of resources in food and housing and health care, and, perhaps most critically, in education. She noted the day-to-day reality of Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs which explains that ‘self actualization’ – becoming all you can be – only derives from living safely and securely, with food, health and housing, feeling loved, gaining self confidence culminating in the capacity to seek and fulfill one’s potential. She says at least 2000 children are known to need mentors. Atlanta CARES Mentoring Movement recruits and supplies caring adults who desire to support children, and connects them with groups seeking mentors for children, such at Big Brothers Big Sisters and other small and large groups seeking to place good role models with children. But now National and Atlanta CARES – under the inspired direction of founder Susan L. Taylor, who for three decades was publisher of Essence Magazine, have taken a bold move to go beyond its worthy work of recruiting and training adults for mentoring children. CARES now has developed University for Parents for which Brenda also serves as Executive Director. Realizing that children need strong support at home in addition to mentors, U4P offers certificate academic programs in an array of courses delivered in 2-hour weekly sessions for 15 weeks per course. Courses are tailored to meet specific needs of parents, nearly all of whom have not completed formal degrees. Course titles are Emotional Wellness and Empowerment, The Reading Circle, Basic Computer Skills, Advanced Computer Skills, Next Level Life Skills, Workforce Development, Active Parenting, Early Childhood Parenting, Fatherhood, Early Learning Career Pathway, Financial Literacy, Graphic Design, Chess and Etiquette. The courses reside within a bold strategy called A New Away Forward designed to enable parents to empower themselves so they take greater control over the events and circumstances that affect them – designed also to profoundly change their lives and enable the uplifting their children. More than 100 parents enroll each quarter.

Posted by Neil Shorthouse
October 25, 2019 2:00pm

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