Jul 7, 2015

Summer Time and Mentoring

With the school year finished and summer in full swing there is plenty of time to ruminate on all that we have accomplished.  This school year has been tough between the schools merging together and tensions between students there were times that I thought I wasn't going to make it.  But we did and we managed to create really beautiful things in difficult circumstances.

All of our 7th and 8th grade students were matched with mentors who had their first meeting in May.  It was so exciting to see our students engage with their mentors, ask questions and be able to talk about their sparks confidently.  

We also created an amazing collaborative community project that our students are proud of and worked hard to create.  They created a video that outlined the changes that would happen when the school combined and conducted interviews with principals, teachers and even the mayor of Wheat Ridge.    

There were times this year that I didn't feel like I was getting through to them.  I would create a lesson plan and then something would erupt and make us veer off topic.  But when I saw them interact with their mentors I knew that the core message of Futures had been absorbed.  Sparks ("passions") are a way for us to connect better with others and to better our lives.  When I saw my students talking confidently to adults about what they were passionate about I was so proud of what we had accomplished.

This year serves as testiment to how our Jovial Futures can adapt to new students and circumstances.  I am very excited for the upcoming school year in the new combined middle school and high school and all the challenges and adventures that will bring.

The summer is not completely without events.  We will outings planned such as soccer games and attending a ropes course as a group.  We are also planning our end of summer party that will bring together students and mentors to celeberate the upcoming school year.

Thank you all for your continued support as we continue to work together to create a jovial future.

Apr 8, 2015

Building Community A Garden At A Time


Hello and Thank You,

We are truly overwhelmed by all the support we received on GlobalGiving this month and sincerely thank all of you for your efforts.

We are honored to have had so many people share our emails, Facebook posts, and engage with us.

My name is Mike Geddes, and I was recently made Garden Manager here at Jovial Concepts. As the newest member of the team, I am continually blown away by what we are able to do with the help of the community. With my background in community gardening, I have seen many a garden fail because of lack of community support and engagement. However, in my short time here I have been deeply encouraged by the amount of support we continually receive.

Our entire model is based around developing community. All our land is donated by the community. We are very fortunate to have garden hosts who are kind enough to allow us to grow food for needy populations on their property. Each weekend they allow us to turn their front lawns and backyards into outdoor classrooms where we specialize in hands-on learning. A lot of them come out and join in to support the volunteers, either with shovels or snacks.

Our plants come as a result of our partnership with the community. We share a greenhouse with Edgewater Elementary, where we currently have thousands of seedlings just waiting to be transplanted. Here we facilitate garden education classes for the youth, which will help us to nurture the next generation of urban gardeners and farmers.

Even all of our labor comes from within the community. People of all ages come out to join us in the gardens. From 10 year olds who need community service hours to earn their black belt, to stay-at-home moms itching to get their hands dirty, we have seen it all. While gathering such consistent support every weekend is a feat in itself, the true magic of the day happens as you watch these strangers forge lasting and impactful relationships all while dedicating their free time to help those less fortunate than themselves.

Most important, our food goes right back into the community to help those who need it the most. Our goal is to once again feed over 250 food insecure families in the region of Metro Denver. 

We are excited to announce that we have expanded our gardens to include many families on our waitlist and have a goal to double our produce donation in 2015 to 5,000lbs!

While we believe this to be a more than feasible task, we can't possibly succeed without your help.

We are looking for a few more volunteers to lead activities each week at the Elementary School and as spring quickly approaches, we need more volunteers for the gardens.

If you are interested in volunteering or getting involved please email info@jovialconcepts.org or call 303-578-2569

Thank you for your support of Jovial Gardens!

Apr 7, 2015

Jovial Futures: Working Together

Robert is opinionated, plain and simple.  Robert is definitely the entertainer of the group.  He loves to be the center of attention and often cracks jokes and makes everyone laugh.  Robert's energy is amazing and he act's as a leader to the rest of the group.  

However, when we are making decisions as a group Robert finds it hard when he feels like his opinion isn't being heard.  Recently we were working together to design our t-shirt.  This is an exciting process because we like to have the students involved in every aspect of the process: from choosing the colors to the final design.  This year the group voted to have a turquoise shirt with a soccer ball on the back with each of their sparks (passions) represented as pictures inside the soccer ball.

Robert was not pleased with this decision.  He brought forth the idea that we should put a 'Taco Cat' on the back of the shirt.  Taco Cat is a popular internet meme that is a picture cat inside of a taco usually accompanied by the caption 'Taco Cat spelled backwards is Taco Cat.'  

When designing our shirt we wanted to have it reflect what our program is about: discovering what you are passionate about (your spark) and using that to do better in school .

We explained to Robert that we felt that a shirt with Taco Cat on it, though funny, would not reflect our club. Despite our reservations, we put the Taco Cat design up for a vote and the other students instead voted unanimously for the soccer ball design created by another student.  This upset Robert to the point where he stormed out insisting we were not being respectful of his ideas.

The next week the kids got together and were finishing up the design for the shirt. Robert was not there. Each of the students were given a space on the soccer ball and we instructed them to draw or select an image that represented their spark. The rest of the students insisted that Robert be given his own space and that we incorporate Taco Cat into the image in some way. Ultimately they choose an image of an acoustic guitar, since his spark is guitar and then had Taco Cat in the background.

This was a potentially difficult situation where we got to see our students treat each others interests and ideas with great respect. The design for the finished T-shirt is attached and we look forward to getting them printed and distributed.

Our students have also shown great interest in the well being of their community in their choice and execution of a community project.

This year the middle school that we currently work in is being combined with the local high school. This means that grades 7 through 12 will be in the same building. This transition has been a concern for parents, students and administrators alike. Our students decided that it was important to make the best of the situation and make the transition as smooth as possible for themselves and their fellow students. They are creating a video, that will be posted on social media that will explain the changes and what can be expected. This video will contain interviews that the students themselves will conduct with individuals such as the mayor, teachers and principals. The students are also designing a pamphlet that will give information about the school merger as well as tips and tricks about how to deal with the change. These will be distributed to students and parents.

With the changing school district Jovial Futures needs your continued support to adapt the upcoming changes and to continue to enrich our students lives. Thank you so much for your donations and support of our program.

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