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updated: May 17, 2014, 10:00 AM

AHA! is dedicated to the development of character, imagination, emotional intelligence, and social conscience in teenagers.

AHA! serves teens and families year-round with after-school programs in Santa Barbara and Carpinteria, a summer program in Santa Barbara, and in-school programs in Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, and Goleta.

We also offer an outdoor program throughout the year, groups for parents, and donation only therapy for families in need.

Our aim is to create a community of socially and emotionally intelligent adolescents who are committed to compassion, character, positive creative expression, and the celebration of diversity.

Our innovative experiential curriculum guides teens to set goals and to stop bullying and hatred. It lends invaluable skills for understanding and managing emotions and relationships. From this place of security in themselves, teens are inspired to do good, achieve in school and serve their community.

We deliver this curriculum in a mentorship setting, with one or more facilitators always present for every six teens.

In 2014, we are set to serve about 2000 teens and families. We're growing because what we do works: Santa Barbara area high schools have reported decreases in truancy, disciplinary actions, and suspensions with the introduction of AHA!.

Our after-school programs offer important mentoring and learning for any teen who wants to be there. After-school programs are especially important for teens, who are most likely to get in trouble during the hours between school and dinner time. With us they get structure, substance, and support to prepare them for a balanced, happy life - and healthy snacks to boot.

Topics Covered in AHA! programs:

Character development
Coming of age
Compassionate communication
Confidence-building and positive risk-taking
Conflict management
Conscious and responsible sexuality
Creative and dynamic self-expression
Emotional integrity
Emotional intelligence
Empathy and compassion
Forgiveness and making amends
Healthy outlets for frustration and anger
Inclusivity and social responsibility
Outdoor Exploration
Personal accountability
Prejudice reduction
Relationship values
Self Understanding/reflection
Social conscience
Stress management
Substance abuse and healthy choices

Method of Delivery:

AHA! delivers classes in an action oriented style where youth and adults are sharing equally and each participant may explore topics through specially designed awareness games, verbal dialogue, written work, crafts, creative expression, and team building exercises.

Participants have the opportunity to learn through participation, experience, and increased self awareness. They have the opportunity to grow from experiential exercises and personal experiences; the learning that comes from these types of lessons can truly last a lifetime.

AHA! also often uses Council, or community, listening circles, as a format for our groups to deepen topic discussion and create a safe and trusting environment for teens. Council is an ancient and modern form of deep listening which installs the virtues of empathy, respect, inclusion, and the celebration of diverse points of view. AHA! employs circles/council in the in-school, after school, and summer work as a core activity to develop clear thinking, open heartedness, and highly developed listening and attunement skills.Changing the world one teen at a time.

To find out more, visit their website: http://ahasb.org/


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