“From little acorns grow giant oaks.” That’s the motto of Dream of a Child Community Development Program, an organization that provides education, health and socioeconomic services to AIDS orphans in Bondo, Kenya.
The SUCCESS Foundation recently nurtured those “oaks” even more by donating copies of Success for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge, the book at the heart of the SUCCESS for Teens personal-development program, to establish a reading intervention program within Dream of a Child, or DACODEP, as the organization is commonly called. (SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and a facilitator’s guide to everyone, and the foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development programs that apply through the website.)
The books found their way to Bondo through historical fiction author Beth Fine and DePaul University associate professor Gabriele Strohschen, a literacy advocate who had sent copies of Fine’s books to DACODEP. Fine believed that the SUCCESS for Teens curriculum would be a perfect fit for DACODEP in setting students on the right path to adulthood, and she requested complimentary copies for the program on its behalf.
Joseph Bwanah, the organization’s director, was pleased after gauging 10- to 13-year-olds’ reactions to a test program with the book, which provides stories from real teens that illustrate eight success principles (such as the power of positive habits and reaching goals in small, planned steps). During several sessions, the children reviewed the books as a group, discussed topics they didn’t understand, and gave feedback about the book and the program.
“SUCCESS for Teens was well-received by the teens as well as by teachers,” Bwanah says. “The teens were very positive about reading the book [and] learned how to identify their talents and skills.” DACODEP students found the book very easy to follow and felt its advice applied to their lives, he says.
In the words of one student: “The content of the book [is] relevant to me. If I put what I have read into practice, I can be successful in my schoolwork and in my future advancement.”
Bwanah now looks forward to sharing the SUCCESS for Teens program with more students, both in Bondo and beyond.
“The impact that we can make can be great if DACODEP is able to reach many teens,” he says.