In addition to our many programs for the women artisans and their children, MarketPlace and SHARE have created a community outreach program called Education for Life (EFL). In this way we are expanding our mission to include other families living in the same poor community as the artisans. Targeting neighborhood students of all ages, EFL is designed to teach life skills and provide overall support for these young people who are facing many challenges.
For the very youngest we partner with the Toy Bank, a nonprofit that provides a collection of educational toys. Parents do not have the money for toys and here the children can access a range of playthings that are fun and expand their world.
Students between the ages of 16 and 22 are thinking about their futures as they prepare for college and jobs. Their families, schools and previous experiences have not really prepared them for this new world. EFL is designed to help them develop the qualities and skills which will assist them in making choices which will lead to productive and satisfying lives. Staff members offer advice on job placement, career counseling, and computer education.
The students also have access to a library at the Center, which they helped to organize and construct. A wide variety of exercises are employed to teach and encourage with the aim of developing their confidence, communication skills, critical thinking and discipline. Games and other activities are put to use to encourage healthy attitudes and abilities.
The Theatre Project, for example, is fun for everyone, and, more importantly, it directs the students on many fronts. As they write scripts on assigned topics they learn to express themselves, research, and think critically. Performance bolsters communication and confidence. They work through how to best present their creations, learning to cooperate and work as teams. Along the way they also learn good ways to deal with and resolve conflicts. Taking part in this program will teach them new ways to act, think, and should serve them well in the future.