NovatoSpirit’s February Fundraiser was a success, and our most generous donor was an 11-year-old boy! AJ Neff of Novato raised $305 for us by tutoring younger kids from his school in math for 3 weeks. AJ won our fundraiser prize of a 3-month family membership at Rolling Hills Club. Many thanks to AJ and his family, to Rolling Hills Club, and to all of you in Novato who participated!
Every child—rich or poor—needs four things in order to succeed: healthcare, literacy, education, and ethics. Physical-fitness activities are a form of healthcare. They are also a form of education. Through athletics, we expose our NovatoSpirit kids to healthcare, literacy, education, and ethics.
Our kids are continuously invited to stretch themselves physically and mentally by their instructors: Mr. Robert Ito of Ito’s White Tiger Karate School, Master Myong O of Kyung Ki Tae Kwon Do, Tara-Caprice Broadwater of Love2Dance, and Diane Ascher, who coaches the soccer program at the Novato Youth Center. They help kids break free from physical and mental constraints. They show kids that they are able to memorize and implement increasingly complicated moves. They teach youth to say “I can” instead of “I can’t.”
These athletic instructors reward our kids for their attendance, effort, and improvement. The kids are asked to be kind and helpful. They are praised for helping others. When they fall back, they are urged to keep going. When they are discouraged, they are taught how to encourage themselves. When they are tired, they are taught that moving while tired is better than not moving at all. They learn to stick up for themselves and others, and that good teamwork is the key to success.
You might call this, merely, good coaching. But I think our instructors develop an ethical and spiritual practice in youth. Everyone needs a healthy strategy for coping with conflict, hardship, disappointment, and loss. If they don’t have healthy strategies, kids adopt unhealthy ones.
In order to progress, NovatoSpirit students have to work hard and persevere, but they also have to communicate with their instructors and with me. I require them to communicate with me regularly in English, orally and in writing. This requirement helps them get used to the idea that they need to “report” their experiences; such reporting is a requirement for all scholarship programs, not just NovatoSpirit. In order to prepare these kids to succeed with other opportunities, such as scholarships to college, they will need to develop a practice of writing and speaking in English.
We appreciate the Novato community for supporting NovatoSpirit’s aspirations and our youth. For more information, please visit www.NovatoSpirit.org.