At Seeds of Hope, we have a long term goal of being able to walk with students from birth through high school graduation. We believe that the longer we can teach children our core values curriculum and expose them to the encouraging, loving environment at Seeds of Hope, the bigger the impact we can have on them, their families, and ultimately our world.
As we work to expand our school to add grade levels and increase our capacities, our After-School Program through the Seeds of Hope Cultural Center is one of the main ways we stay connected with students outside of the classroom. What started with 15 children in 2014 has grown to 57 students from across Jericho.
It’s also a space that doesn’t have the same government oversight as a school, so Simon and Regina Shaheen, the directors of the program, are free to set their own curriculum, which is updated every year. They teach everything from life skills like public speaking and the English language to values like honesty, cooperation, and self-control.
“We really want to teach life lessons that will build character and help them better understand the world around them. We want to make them braver and build confidence, and it’s all meant to expand their ideas of the world.”
—Regina Shaheen, After-School Program teacher and co-director
The After-School Program not only lets Seeds of Hope have a wider impact and include more students, but it also facilitates a deeper connection and relationship with children and families. When Rawya found the Seeds of Hope After-School Program, she was desperate for a safe environment for her two sons. She had been told that one of her sons had autism and the other had been dismissed as hyperactive at school. In the public schools in Jericho, there is very little accommodation or individual attention for conditions like these and her sons were struggling.
“We learned that if the kids made a mistake, they would banish them from the classroom. My son had become afraid to say anything, to even talk, for fear he would be wrong.” Rawya remembers. “I had run out of options and I didn’t know where else to turn…” Luckily, Rawya and her sons got connected with the Seeds of Hope After-School Program.
“Simon and Regina both really took time with him, to get to know him and what he needed. He loved them from the beginning.” She recalls about when her son started the program. “He started participating and socializing with other kids and making friends. It was the first time my son was happy and accepted. They saved him… and me.”
“It was the first time my son was happy and accepted.
They saved him… and me.”
–Rawya, After-School Program mother
We know that love, acceptance, and encouragement are more powerful than any life skill or lesson we could teach children. That’s what’s so special about the After-School Program. Simon Shaheen, Seeds of Hope Cultural Center director, sums it up this way: “We know what’s going on in their lives. We share moments with them that they don’t experience anywhere else. And we’ve built trust with the parents as well. They know how much we love their kids. We are family.”
It’s this focus on relationships and love that truly makes a difference. And the longer we can stay connected with these students, the more impact we can have.