AHA! Means Epiphany
For the organization known as AHA! (which stands for “Attitude, Harmony, Achievement”), 22 years is long enough to have had a lot of epiphanies on how to improve the social and emotional intelligence of thousands of teenagers, teachers, and parents who benefit from their programs.
AHA!’s in-school programs bring social-emotional learning (SEL) into classrooms, helping students learn to listen deeply, communicate clearly, and appreciate — even celebrate — differences. (Anyone who doubts that SEL can make school campuses safer and happier and improve academics should be reassured by this: at one struggling high school that received AHA!’s in-school programming, suspensions dropped 70 percent and standardized test scores rose by 11 points.) AHA! groups for adults have radically enhanced the social and emotional wellness of parents and guardians.
These programs are the combined legacy of an organization that has helped more than 25,000 middle and high school students (and adults too!) become more mindful, aware, connected, empathetic, and resilient.
In June, the nonprofit launched the AHA! Digital Cleanse, taking a group of nearly 40 teenagers and facilitators on a five-day retreat at El Capitan Canyon. Screen-free adventures included horseback riding, kayaking, creative arts projects, music, and theater/movement improvisation. “All devices went into a lockbox, and we did a deep dive into connecting with nature and each other,” says AHA! Senior Director of Development Molly Green. “We hoped to not only wean teens from being constantly attached to their devices, but also to discover and enjoy what is possible when they put them away.”
A growing body of research continues to establish a link between teen addiction to electronic devices and their risk of anxiety and depression. The Digital Cleanse addresses this issue through the proven health-promoting power of nature and through socially and emotionally intelligent activities that build self-awareness, self-confidence, listening and communication skills, and sense of belonging. More Digital Cleanse retreats are being planned for 2022.
The importance of AHA!’s work has only grown over the year and a half of the ongoing COVID pandemic. “Kids are really struggling,” says Green. “Our community has seen an increase in instances of self-harm and multiple suicide attempts.” In all its programs, AHA! works to help teenagers remember what it’s like to connect in person, human to human, deeply and vulnerably — the most important antidote to the distress of separateness and fear.
(805) 770-7200 x 2
Senior Director of Development Molly Green
AHA! equips teenagers, educators, and parents with social and emotional intelligence to dismantle apathy, prevent despair, and interrupt hate-based behavior.
Begin to Build a Relationship
We know you care about where your money goes and how it is used. Connect with this organization’s leadership in order to begin to build this important relationship. Your email will be sent directly to this organization’s director of development and/or Executive Director.
It’s never been harder to be a teenager. Social isolation, skyrocketing gun violence, social media divisiveness, bullying and discrimination, and persistent anxiety about an uncertain world have led to unprecedented levels of mental health issues in youth. For me – as a donor, volunteer, and now board member of AHA! – I know we must show up for our teenagers now more than ever, and this program is the surest way I know to make a profound difference. AHA! provides lifetime tools for social and emotional well-being, enabling teens to better care for themselves, each other, and their communities.
Give Teens the Tools to Tackle Life
Our in-school programs have served some 55,000 students since our founding, and we receive just 14% from districts toward the cost of services. We need help reaching our goal of raising 33% of our budget – half a million dollars – to continue to provide social-emotional learning programming, mentorship, and support to the SBUSD and CUSD.
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