This semester, Pasadena-based non profit Tools for Peace partnered with Citizen Schools California to teach an apprenticeship at Roots Academy in Oakland. Founded in 2000, Tools for Peace is an organization whose purpose is to strengthen and support emotional intelligence, as well as increase academic success. Their mission is to inspire people of all ages to develop kindness and compassion in everyday life, and that is exactly what this semester allowed them to build with our students in Oakland.
Tools for Peace provided our Oakland students with a unique apprenticeship this semester. The activities performed during the semester gave students mechanisms in coping with everyday anxieties and stressors. Students began each class engaging in a weekly mindfulness practice, which included exercises in mindful breathing, mindful walking, and engaging the senses. Following the mindfulness practice, they worked on individual and collaborative art projects, including the comic strip they created for the WOW! presentation.
Caitlin Kara, who has been with Tools for Peace since 2008, was the lead Citizen Teacher this semester. She wanted to volunteer with Citizen Schools because of the wonderful opportunity to connect with students with different backgrounds.
“Roots Academy students are so diverse, and as preteens and teens, they are learning about their emerging identities and their roles in their families, community, and our world,” said Kara. “Our program offered them tools to help navigate challenging situations, including stress at school, peer pressure, and any difficulties that may arise within their personal lives.”
One of the activities the students worked on throughout the semester was creating a character called “The Mindful Master” whose superpower was a “mindfulness forcefield” that helped them navigate the stress of seventh period math class, while staying calm and focused.
We in California are extremely grateful for the excellent and innovative apprenticeship experience brought to our students in Oakland this semester by Tools for Peace - and hope to see this partnership continue to grow!