Most freshmen at these schools are required to participate in this program, which is offered through a local non-profit run by youth leaders Jennifer Freed, PhD and Rendy Freedman, MFT and facilitated by a team of 15 educators.

Even if you have a teen of your own, you might feel some concern about the state of the teens in our community. Ever wish any teens you knew could be calmer, less impulsive, kinder, less vulnerable to bad influences, and to refuse to be involved in bullying in any way as a victim or as an aggressor? AHA! teaches skills that do all this and more. Their by-donation programs rely exclusively on community support.

AHA! provides mentoring and education around many of the things not taught in schools – things that a comprehensive body of educational research has found to be more important for lifetime success than academics. Call them “people skills,” “emotional intelligence,” or “character education” – all these terms refer to the same bottom line: youth learning how to cope with a complex and ever-changing social and emotional world.

As AHA! grows – this year they’ll serve about 1700 students in area schools and in their after-school program – their need for this support grows, too. This year, they will hold their first Hike for AHA! fundraiser to support their programs, including in-school and daily after-school groups and intensive summer programs. “Hike for AHA! is about active adults and youth climbing the great mountain of social transformation,” says Executive Director Jennifer Freed, a well-known expert on youth issues who is often quoted in national media. “We want to help youth have tools to succeed and be joyful as they work toward their dreams.”

The hike will begin at the head of Romero Canyon Trail, which winds into the Montecito foothills. Although the complete hike measures nearly 7 miles, walkers may choose shortened routes. An after-party will be held at a Montecito estate. Every walker who raises $1000 will receive a pair of award-winning Ahnu hiking shoes from event sponsor Deckers, Inc. , along with a T-shirt.

Tools at the hike registration site make it easy and simple to enlist donation from friends, family and co-workers. Registration is open to all who wish to participate. Visit click here to find more information about AHA! and a link to the Hike for AHA! web site.


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