Youth Empowerment: Wellness, Mentoring & Coaching

by Duncan Tree Foundation
Youth Empowerment: Wellness, Mentoring & Coaching
Youth Empowerment: Wellness, Mentoring & Coaching
Youth Empowerment: Wellness, Mentoring & Coaching
Youth Empowerment: Wellness, Mentoring & Coaching
On our way to school
On our way to school

Duncan Tree Foundation believes in empowering young citizens and we are changing our world one student at a time. 

We believe your gift gives our KIDS IN THE MIDDLE program access to certified, professionally trained (through the lens of emotional intelligence) life and career coaches and career mentors (e.g., biomedical engineers, developers, programmers, doctors, nurses, scientists, architects, psychiatrists...).

We believe in listening to the kids in the middle who are typically overlooked, and respond appropriately, challenging them, giving them one-on-one guidance, helpful advice, and teaching them to navigate their relationships, and providing the necessary skills to compete with those who have socio-economic advantages.

We believe that Generation Alpha (GA) needs more than we had. They lack a well-rounded education and extracurricular activities beyond the ‘3Rs’ (reading, writing, arithmetic). They represent only a small portion of the knowledge and skills that students need to succeed in the modern world, they continue to serve as an important foundation for learning and personal development. Preparing GAs for the future requires a multifaceted approach that takes into account the rapidly changing world we live in. 

Here is what we are attempting to foster:

  • Encouraging interdisciplinary learning: The future demands individuals who can approach problems from multiple perspectives. Encouraging students to explore different subjects and fields, and help them understand how these areas connect with each other.

  • Fostering critical thinking skills: The ability to think critically is essential for success in any field. Encourage students to ask questions, evaluate evidence, and analyze information to arrive at well-reasoned conclusions.

  • Developing technological proficiency: Technology is rapidly evolving, and it is essential that students have the skills to navigate and utilize it effectively. Encourage students to learn about new technologies, and provide opportunities for them to develop enhanced digital literacy.

  • Emphasizing creativity and innovation: The future requires individuals who can think creatively and come up with innovative and transformative solutions to problems. Encourage students to think outside the box, and provide opportunities for them to develop their creative and innovative thinking skills.

  • Fostering adaptability and resilience: The future is unpredictable, and it is essential that GAs develop the ability to adapt to change and overcome personal, academic, and social challenges. Listening closely to GAs and encouraging them to embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and provide support to help them bounce back from setbacks.

  • Cultivating interpersonal skills: The ability to communicate clearly and effectively, collaborate with others, and build relationships is essential for success in any field. Encouraging students to develop their interpersonal skills by working on group projects, participating in extracurricular activities, and engaging in community service.

At some point we hope to join forces with Skills for a Changing World a project of the Center for Universal Education at Brookings and the LEGO Foundation that seeks to ensure all children have high-quality learning opportunities that build the breadth of skills needed to create a productive, healthy society in the face of changing social, technological, and economic demands.

We believe that focusing on these areas, we can help prepare the current generation of students for the future and equip them with the soft and hard skills they need to thrive in an ever-changing world.

Duncan Tree is working diligently on building partnerships, recruiting supporters, and engaging sponsors for the KIDS IN THE MIDDLE project which we know will likely be the most innovative change to education in over 70 years. Our vision is great as well as transformative and we are patiently (and diligently) working to bring our project to as many schools who will benefit from it.


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Sandra Dee Natalie Wan a.k.a. SWan
Sandra Dee Natalie Wan a.k.a. SWan

My sister Sandra died of a heart attack on October 24, 2022. She was alone and childless. Her body was found by my youngest child. Her niece. We were devastated.

Sandra insisted on family members and friends calling her SWan (an homage to her first and last names. Sandra Dee Natalie Wan's father was from Hong Kong).

SWan was a Kid in the Middle, literally. She was the third of my mother's five children, and me being the fourth girl.

When I was four, Sandra saved me from a near drowning in White River. We were floating on our backs in the river in Charlestown, Portland, Jamaica, W.I. The river picked up speed. Sandra noticed I was missing and noticed me holding on for dear life with both legs wrapped around a huge rock. I owe her my life. Literally.  My sister always showed up for me, my daughters, and all fourteen of her nieces and nephews. She was the best.

Sandra was brilliant, passionate, thoughtful, purposeful, and devoted to her family and close childhood friends. She never reached her full potential because of a disability. 

Sandra had untapped potential. She could have been a doctor, lawyer, engineer, or corporate executive if given the opportunity (even with her disability). I often wondered what type of life she could have lived if she had a chance to attend and finish college or university. What would her life be like had she had the benefit of being mentored by a professional in her field of interest? And what if she had the benefit of having a professional coach, trained in emotional intelligence, who could help her see her full potential?

Her disability robbed her of manifesting her true potential but her life was not in vain. Her legacy is one of fierce love, empathy, and grace. She loved me and celebrated Duncan Tree's work.

Now Duncan Tree moves forward to launch our Kids in the Middle (KITM) program to carve out a path for kids like Sandra. 

Our pilot program is a unique combination of mentorship and coaching designed to empower students like Sandra, by building up their critical thinking skills, self-confidence, self-awareness, and self-empowerment. The KITM program is designed to carve out a path for talented high-school students interested in STEM and they make decisions about their career paths.

Kids from broken families, living at or near the poverty line, living in neighborhoods and homes where they are being bullied, ignored or overlooked.  Kids who might be interested in careers focused on Science (think all healthcare professions), Technology (think Google, Amazon, and Netflix), Engineering (think skyscrapers, bridges, and tunnels) and Math (think Accounting, investment banking, computer programming, pharmacy technician).

Duncan Tree is connecting each student with:

  • Mentors from Medtronic — already working in the field of STEM
  • Certified professional coaches who will offer insight through the ELI assessment tool, to facilitate the relationship between the mentor and student mentee, and coach the student mentee weekly throughout the program

Duncan Tree is excited to partner with volunteer iPEC coaches and Medtronic mentors who are passionate about empowering future leaders to awaken their potential and pursue dream careers that might otherwise feel out of reach.

Will you open your heart to lend your support to our unique program pilot?

I thank you and SWan thanks you for your gift.


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Amal A. at AI conference, NYC
Amal A. at AI conference, NYC


Duncan Tree Foundation has happily tackled another trimester. These past few months we’ve continued our turn towards educating adults and having them bring along their kids for the ride. We continue to explore how we can bring back our scoliosis program, we will keep you posted. 

At Duncan Tree, we love all things information, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) our scoliosis program encompassed many, if not all, of these.  The Duncan Tree podcast with Ouida continues to remind our followers to expand our minds, spirit, and finances, these are all essential to a truly holistic healthy life.

In 2018 there were 1.2 million STEM jobs available and many of the underserved aren’t represented within that community. Sadly, we are missing out and they are missing out on our people of color, the underserved of all communities, and the wonderful, creative, and our perspectives. 

As an organization, we've always strived to promote learning and pathways to education, employment, and financial security for the forgotten and most vulnerable, our efforts can enrich and make a difference in society.

STEM careers mean

Astronomy--learn about the universe by studying physics and chemistry as they relate to celestial objects.

Electrical engineering--electrical engineering majors create electrical systems and devices that improve the quality of life for human experiences, shaping everything from iPads and GPS navigation hardware to hydro, wind and solar power generation as systems.

Mechanical engineering--Mechanical engineers are interested in both functionality and aesthetics of objects designed. Such as cars, lamps, blenders, elevators just about every household item and machine for manufacturing you can think of.

The career opportunities are endless with STEM and STEM tangential jobs. Some biologists love photography and may dedicate themselves to capturing microscopic views of viruses, a great way of combining art and science. Mechanical engineers may want to design functional household items because of their love of aesthetics. An astronomer may want to work as a climatologist, a technical writer, a college professor, or a sci-fi novelist. The possibilities are endless and we need to allow our children to be creative as they explore their career choices.

As children, we all have dreams about whom and what we want to be when we grew up. I know of people who wanted to be doctors and they did it. Others had dreams of adventurous jobs, like being a spy, an actress, or a singer, but those were dashed or fell- off. Many kids dream of being vets and working with animals but life got in the way. As parents, we have one supremely important job in protecting our children’s dreams, and that is to remind them of who they want to be and help them attain them. 

Don’t bury a dream in STEM because of your practical adult mind. Yes, it’s expensive, but encourage it anyway! Tell kids 15-18 years old, who are interested in STEM  about our Kids in the Middle High School STEM Mentoring-Coaching Program! It’s one of our finest moments and we think you will agree it’s in line with our Duncan Tree Mission of healing, teaching, and empowering underserved communities around the world.

If you agree, please make a generous donation today. Thank you.


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Episode 2: Unhealthy Earth
Episode 2: Unhealthy Earth

When Duncan Tree Foundation started our journey of healing, teaching, and empowering youth in 2008, little did we know where this journey would take us.

Today we are happy to announce as we leap forward, we've launched the Duncan Tree Podcast with Ouida on Duncan Tree on Apple Podcast and Spotify earlier this year to bring our message of healing, teaching, and empowerment to young people around the world. We focus on young people in particular because they are our future leaders, and we also focus on their 'village' including parents, grandparents, extended family and friends who provide them with financial and emotional stability and support within their community. 

The Duncan Tree Podcast series on wellness was released in partnership with Duncan Tree Productions, LLC, where, in future episodes we're going to discuss the four pillars established by the Duncan Tree Foundation as a pivot caused by the pandemic, the pillars are emotional/mental, spiritual, physical, and financial wellness.

Like you, we don't have it all figured out, but we do have different backgrounds and resources. Together, we will be able to not only heal ourselves but help you along on the journey of healing. 

Of the ten episodes, we've recorded thus after the episode on "Watch Your Mind: Signs and Signals of Suicide" and "Humbly Prosperous: How having the right mindset contributes to obtaining and maintaining a wealthy lifestyle".

After you've had a chance to listen to the episodes tell us your thoughts on what you liked and did not like about them. We want to hear from you. We plan to take your feedback to help make future episodes better.

In addition to launching a post-pandemic Podcast, we're moving forward with plans to launch our long-awaited Mentoring program to support young people interested in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers. Duncan Tree has had the benefit of having over 100 volunteers with a background in STEM who are prime to be Mentors for future generations. Now that we've seen Hope Chicago's story on 60-minutes (Sunday, 22 May) we are considering a pilot program with their team for high school seniors and their parents who benefit from full-ride scholarships for in-state college and technical school tuition.

Follow us share, and comment here to keep up to date with what we're doing, and chime in anytime to help us improve our mission and vision.

YouTube channel >, Instagram:, TikTok: and Twitter.



When we look back at all of the people who helped make our fourteen-year journey possible, we couldn't have done this without you and we want to thank the following individuals and sponsors (all who are not listed space limits us from thanking every single person who loved and supported us along the way).

Dr. Roy Streete of OID, and Former Consul General Genevieve Brown-Metzger (who in turn introduced Duncan Tree a key partner at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center).

We were delighted to be the lead planners of a special CME conference on 10 March 2010, PROSTATE CANCER: Current Status & Future Directions-unique impact on African America and Caribbean men.

Thank you Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester, Former Chief Medical Officer of Jamaica for joining our team and positively impacting our growth journey since 2011.

  • Denise Dixon, thank you for doing research and telling us about Medtronic Spine.
  • Thank Kashia Diaz-Cave for Introducing us to the producers of the NBC Connecticut Health and Wellness Festival where we partnered with them from 2009 to 2011 in offering free digital rectal exams, and patient education in the four pillars of wellness.
  • We also want to thank Dr. Kirk Campbell, at Mount Sinai for his insight and leadership
  • Kiel Telesford, PhD at Weill Cornell, former board member
  • Christina Regan former board member
  • Oheneba Boachie-Adjei, former Chair of Scoliosis at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and the first spine surgeon to join Duncan Tree on our first mission trip to Jamaica
  • Dr. Mark Lee, Orthopedic Surgeon Connecticut Children's Hospital
  • Dr. Vincent Arlet (Head of Spine Surgery and UPenn Medicine)
  • Dr. Fred Hess (Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Geisinger, PA)
  • Mr. Nat Valentine who were instrumental in our pivot from Prostate Cancer to Scoliosis.

We want to thank all 100+ volunteers who participated in over 20 mission trips in over nine years of our Scoliosis Care Fund missions to Jamaica, the Philippines and Trinidad and Tobago.

We're grateful for the support of the Jamaican Ministry of Health & Wellness and the staff of South East Regional Health Authority, Kingston Public Hospital, especially:

  • Dr. Ian Neil (Orthopedic Surgeon)
  • Dr. Andrew Bogle (Orthopedic Surgeon)
  • Dr. Nathalie Wylie (Senior Medical Officer), and
  • Nurse Debby-Ann McKenzie-Cookes (Head Nurse)
  • Carl Cavallier (Technician)
  • Phyliss Hall, Ministry of Health
  • Meverley Anderson, Ministry of Health
  • Ava Timberlake, Ministry of Health
  • Sheldon Bateman (Physical Therapist) and at Cornwall Regional Hospital
  • Dr. Francis Lindo (former head of Orthopedics at Cornwall Regional Hospital)
  • Dr. Delroy Fray (former Senior Medical Officer at Cornwall Regional Hospital)
  • Dr. Stefan Rodney (Orthopedic Consultant Cornwall Regional Hospital)
  • Anthony Smikle (CEO of Cornwall Regional Hospital) and all the nurses and technicians who gave of their time and talent over the years.

To our sponsors:

  • Medtronic Spine (and their shipper Charlie Mossburg Crane International Shipping)
  • NuVasive Clinical Services
  • Specialty Care
  • Adam Stewart (CEO Sandals International, SRI)
  • Eleanor Miller (SRI)
  • Christopher Issa (CEO, Spanish Court Hotel)
  • Andres Cope (Spanish Court)

In the Philippines, we want to thank:

  • Dr. Dheera Ananthakrishnan, who introduced us to the team at Southern Philippines Medical Center:
  • Dr. Gilbert Caulian
  • Dr. Richie Sorilla
  • Dr. Dimples Reyes and her father, Badjun Reyes, MD, and his wife Zony Reyes and their entire family
  • All of the Orthopedic Residents and Nurses at Southern Philippines Medical Center
  • Leron Lehman, former Executive Director at Tebow CURE Hospital in Davao City

Film crew:

  • Ryan Paco and his family
  • Hermann Candelaria and his family
  • Arrif & Davine Butler
  • Jeremy & David Rogers
  • And others

Others we want to thank

  • My virtual Assistant Mrs. Roan Andal and her family
  • Tracy Lisee
  • Jim D'Amato, MD

Our current and recent past board members:

  • Ms. Nathalie Heywood-Smith
  • Ryan LeBlanc, DPT
  • Lawrence Edmonson
  • Paul Jennings
  • Dr. Kenneth Paonessa of Norwich Orthopedic Group (and a protege of Dr. Boachie)
  • David Dungey

Our advisors

  • Dr. Sheila Campbell-Forrester
  • Dr. Mark Lee, Orthopedic Surgeon Connecticut Children's Hospital
  • Dr. Vincent Arlet (Head of Spine Surgery and UPenn Medicine)
  • Dr. Fred Hess (Chief of Orthopedic Surgery, Geisinger, PA)
  • Mr. Nat Valentine who were instrumental in our pivot from Prostate Cancer to Scoliosis.
  • J. V. DeLeon
  • Lemuel Hernandez and many, many others.

Hundreds of lives have been changed for the better and hundreds of millions of dollars have been saved by their respective governments thanks to your generosity and now that we're pivoting from spine surgery and capacity building to our mentorship program focused on kids interested in STEM careers.

Stay tuned for more updates.






Episode 3: Rising Above Covid
Episode 3: Rising Above Covid
Episode 4: Humbly Prosperous
Episode 4: Humbly Prosperous
Episode 5: Wellness Defined
Episode 5: Wellness Defined
Episode 6: Watch Your Mind
Episode 6: Watch Your Mind


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What started off as a calling, based on my own path to healing and empowerment, led to me attending Bible college at Greater Allen Cathedral's Bible Institute in partnership with Nyack College. I was seeking knowledge about what my life purpose was and how I can serve vulnerable people, especially those who suffered childhood trauma.

A friend of mine Cathleen E. Williams, RN, Esq., LLM invited me to attend the Landmark Forum, which changed my life forever.

Once I learned to forgive myself and others, and get out of my own way, my mind and spirit were freed up to look at what was possible in my life.

Those of you who are Landmark grads know Landmark's energy is infectious. After graduating from the Forum I enrolled in the Advanced Course where I learned who I am and gave myself permission to ask for what I wanted. Next, I signed up for the Self-Expression in Leadership course where participants are encouraged to enroll others in the possibility of launching an initiative that would make an impact either in our local communities or globally.

Already having the idea for Duncan Tree Foundation, I always say, God laid the fuse but Landmark lit the match, and BOOM, 14 years later, here we are.

It's with humility and gratitude that I post this message on Duncan Tree Foundation's 14th anniversary. I could not have done this by myself and I certainly know that if I made Duncan Tree's work about me we would have folded a very long time ago.

Covid-19 created an opportunity to pivot and share our message of mental, physical, financial, and spiritual wellness on a new, soon-to-be-named, weekly Podcast series we just launched on Spotify last week.

Click to listen and subscribe to our Podcast.

So, join me in raising a virtual glass to all of the hundreds of volunteers, board members, advisors, strategic partners, beneficiaries, and supporters who have walked with us on this journey since January 28, 2008.

Much love and blessings always!

Follow us on:
Instagram: @duncantree
Facebook: The Duncan Tree Foundation
YouTube: Duncan Tree Foundation
Twitter: @Duncantree


Reggie Van Lee 

kenneth paonessa 

Loida Lewis | Barbara Anderson | Nathalie Heywood Smith (she/her/hers/us) | David Addams | Chanel Duncan | Christina Regan | Dawn Whitelaw | Sheila Forrester | Fred Hess | Lawrence Edmondson | Jenny DeLeon | Paul Jennings | Lemuel Hernandez | Dheera Ananthakrishnan | Ian Neil, MD | Gilbert Cauilan | Kirk Campbell | Kiel Telesford, Ph.D., M.S. | Kristel Thompson-Bush | Stefan Rodney | Ryan LeBlanc, Walker-Diaz Chris |Theresa O'Neal | Terri Dean | Jackie Harris | Sabrina HoSang Jordan...and to everyone who poured their heart into our organization.

A special thanks to:

Medtronic Spine & Biologics 

Kimberly Ford

SpecialtyCare NuVasive | Kingston Public Hospital | Cornwall Regional Hospital | Jamaican Ministry of Health | SERHA | Southern Philippines Medical Center

#duncantreefoundation #spotifypodcasts #greaterallencathedral

Reggie Van Lee, major donor; Ouida Duncan, founder
Reggie Van Lee, major donor; Ouida Duncan, founder
Founding Board at 2009 Launch Party
Founding Board at 2009 Launch Party


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Organization Information

Duncan Tree Foundation

Location: HEWLETT, New York - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @DuncanTree
Project Leader:
Ouida Duncan
President & Founder
Hewlett, NY - New York United States
$8,333 raised of $10,000 goal
155 donations
$1,667 to go
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