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.
Fostering Safety and
The best part of giving to AHA! is that all donations go to direct services thanks to one longtime supporter who covers operational expenses!
• $5,000 provides AHA! after-school and summer groups for five youth for one year, averaging 6-8 hours per week/youth with experienced mentors and facilitators.
• $10,000 provides three months of Littlest Little Farm programming for 24 youth.
• $20,000 provides 15 Hero Assemblies to schools (1,500+ students served), inspiring positive attitudes, safe communities, and brave contributions.
• $25,000+ enables AHA! to offer one school a customized Peace Builders curriculum emphasizing empathy, agency, and kindness and serving up to 40 students for the full school year.
• $30,000+ enables AHA! to offer one school in-school freshman programming to develop social-emotional skills and social responsibility, serving 150+ students over the full school year.
• $40,000 covers the AHA! Digital Cleanse summer program for 20 teens — providing a refuge from devices with a focus on appreciating nature, bonding with one another, exploring creative expression, and connecting vulnerably.
(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.
I believe the most important thing we can give our children is a sense of well-being. The world our kids live in today is filled with tremendous challenges whether those challenges arise from a difficult home life, bullying, homophobia, racism, economic hardship, and random acts of aggression. AHA! programs teach social and emotional skills that enable our children to better handle these challenges. I’ve had the opportunity to see it firsthand — to experience the value of various AHA! programs in school, after school, and summer activities. It’s amazing. I cannot think of a better opportunity to help our teens grow into healthy and productive adult lives.
Lisa and Bryan Babcock
Jennifer & Peter Buffett
Graham Duncan & Courtney Smith
Lucy and Mary Firestone
Kerrilee & Martin Gore
Nancy Grinstein & Neal Rabin
Karen & Bayard Hollins
Beryl & Neil Kreisel
Nora McNeely Hurley & Michael Hurley
Natalie Orfalea & Lou Buglioli
Marla McNally Phillips & Lee Phillips
Stacy & Ron Pulice
Justine Roddick & Tina Schlieske
Susan & Bobby Shand