The best way to show love is by doing something for others.
We are working with love and passion, hoping to see these kids
be the best they can be on the wonderful path of life.
EMOTIONAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
CHILD DEVELOPMENT BEGINS IN THE HEART AND MIND
We want to support our kids by providing the tools they can use to resolve their own problems, rather than always looking to others to resolve issues for them. This resilience is not only useful for them in their young lives, but can grow with them and serve them throughout their lives. Our emotional development program takes the time to observe the kids in their environment and as they interact with others and then works with them one on one or in small groups to deal with the issues most affecting their emotional lives.
EDUCATION IS AN IMPORTANT WAY TO GET A BETTER FUTURE
For the past two years our mentor/study program has partnered with young adults through Ave Maria University’s Mother Teresa Project and the Friends of Immokalee Soccer School Club who are matched with ISSA participants. Once a week the mentors and kids spend time together, getting to know one another, talking about dreams and goals, helping with academics, and generally having fun. When the mentors and kids get together, our borrowed space at Misión Peniel fills with laughter, smiles, and genuine human connection. We are continuously surprised with the kids’ enthusiasm and eagerness to participate in these late evening sessions after attending school and after school programs all day long.
Because of the pandemic, we are adjusting how the mentoring program is set up. For the remainder of 2020 mentors and kids will be meeting virtually twice a week. This will give the kids and mentors the opportunity to get to know each other and retain this important connection even though they can't be in the same physical location.
REGULAR EXERCISE IS VITAL TO PROPER GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT IN YOUTH
While ISSA is “much more than just a soccer school”, soccer practice is still at the heart of our program. Regular soccer practices occur two evenings a week and every Saturday morning. Our high school students serve as coaches, thereby, pushing the younger kids to do their best and developing their confidence as leaders. Volunteer coaches from the Immokalee community and surrounding areas and weekly student volunteers from Ave Maria University and other visiting schools provide additional leadership, coaching, skills development, and overall encouragement. The kids work and play hard at each practice. It is always a joy to see how happy they are to run, push themselves physically, and to learn new skills.
We believe that ISSA should be a safe place for the kids to develop fully into themselves and to discover what amazing people they are. We provide the space and time for our players to get structured physical exercise in an environment that is supportive and fun.
For the remainder of 2020 we will be holding soccer practice in small groups in our kids living areas throughout town. We will be practicing safe social distancing, but understand that it is perhaps even more important now than ever for the kids to have this outlet for them to exercise, practice healthy habits, and burn off steam.
Soccer practice takes place Saturdays from 8:30 am to 10:30 am.
COMMUNITY SERVICE PROGRAM
HELP YOURSELF HELPING OTHERS
In line with our core values of LOVE and RESPECT, we try to contribute to our community through community service.
For the past two years we’ve volunteered at Misión Peniel, a local project of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), their Friday food and clothing distributions and in the Cultivate Abundance community garden located behind Misión Peniel. Our team of high school students each take on a station or task– serving food, translating clothes needs, planning and staffing a children’s activity station – where they interacted both with Misión Peniel volunteers from churches throughout the Southwest Florida area and with Immokalee community residents. Through this experience we’ve had been able to develop valuable relationships and have learned, as Pastor Miguel and Ruth remind us, to see the face of Jesus in every person.
While our community service program is in hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, we look forward to returning to volunteering with our partners and are always seeking out other avenues to give of ourselves to the community.
TOOLS FOR PARENTS
SUPPORTING OUR PARENTS IS PART OF THE PROGRAM
We know and understand that it is very difficult and complicated for parents to provide all the support and motivation their children need. But we also know that they have the capacity to solve their own situations. Our tools for parents program is structured to serve as a support for understanding and working with parents. Program highlights include interactive parenting workshops led by experts who understand the cultures where our parents come from. Through the program our parents have the opportunity to meet and learn about different techniques that are indispensable for improving themselves and their relationship with their kids.
FOOD FROM OUR FAMILIES
THE QUICKEST WAY TO A CHILD'S HEART IS THROUGH HIS STOMACH
Perhaps the most anticipated and certainly the most delicious program is the family-provided homemade healthy meals at each Saturday practice. In addition to the delicious food itself, the families are given an opportunity to share important moments together – the parents see their kids hard at work at practice and the kids get to introduce their parents to the other kids and volunteers. And, wow! the food is amazing!
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this program is on hold. But boy are we looking forward to the delicious cuisine provided by our parents and the community created when we share a meal together. Bring on the mole, spaghetti, rice, beans, tostadas and so much more!
DRAMA BUILDS CHARACTER
Our newest program is our theater group led by Ave Maria University Shakespeare in Performance students, During our regular Saturday morning soccer practices we host a break out group for some of the kids for whom soccer "just isn't their thing". Through drama games, role plays, and skit rehearsals, the kids learn to break out of their comfort zone and to express themselves through spoken and body language.
Although we're taking a break from theater for the time being, when we get back to it we're planning to stage ISSA's first public performance. Check back for more details in 2021.