When teenagers are responsible for teaching and mentoring young children, they need to have the necessary tools to be positive role models. That’s why the leaders of Neisha’s Dance & Music Academy (ND&MA) in Chula Vista, California, decided to implement SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum by the SUCCESS Foundation, into their dance teacher’s assistant program early last year.
“We strive to encourage our students to live inspiring lives,” artistic director Ericka Moore says. “The owner of ND&MA, Neisha Hernandez, has continually looked for opportunities to enlighten and enrich the dancers and musicians who attend the academy.”
Hernandez heard about SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge, the book at the core of the curriculum, through other area dance studios. The studio’s 51 assistants, ages 9 to 17, started the program last year. (The SUCCESS Foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.)
“We understand the difficult transition that youths make entering into their teenage years,” Moore says. “We believe it is important to give them tools to navigate their everyday world so that when they enter the classroom with younger children, they are at their most powerful place emotionally and physically.”
Every other month, Moore meets with assistants to review the book—in which teens offer practical advice for developing such skills as goal-setting, positive thinking and more—and discuss its lessons. Outside of meetings, the assistants complete book exercises and journal entries.
Moore says the overall reaction has been positive: “The book has really given them insight on how they can react to certain situations and know that they are not alone. I think the book also has shown them the importance of having positive energy.”
Moore’s assistant Claire Dennis agrees: “I have seen the ripple effect of positivity in the students I assist. Whenever I apply positive energy in class, I notice the students are more encouraged to execute correctly and enjoy class more.”
ND&MA is in its second year using SUCCESS for Teens. Moore says the program is causing its own kind of ripple effect that reaches beyond the studio.
“This is how the circle begins,” she says. “What these teens are learning will bleed into how they interact with their younger peers and teach them how to be positive and inspiring to others as well.”
To request books, learn about the program, share your story about it or make a contribution, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing [email protected]
This article appears in the May 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.