A little rain couldn’t stop teachers, parents and students from participating in the Talking Stick Learning Center‘s inaugural 5k walk on Saturday.
Roughly 30 people donned raincoats and toted umbrellas to complete the 3.1 mile around the Awbury Arboretum grounds to raise funds for the Center.
About the Center
Established in 2006, the Talking Stick Learning Center is a local non-profit which provides homeschooled children between the ages of 4 and 16 with alternative-education activities and classes.
Children attend the Center one to two days per week to participate in various creative programs that focus on everything from sewing to conflict negotiating.
Talking Stick Learning Center facilitator Alia Thompson said it is a vital resource for homeschooled children because it provides the opportunity to socialize with other youths while also taking an active role in choosing their own learning experiences.
“The best thing is that it’s mostly about choice and what they want to do,” she said, “and it’s in a safe and friendly environment.
“It’s a very loose schedule. I typically start the day off with activities laid out but, from there, they can choose to do that if they want to or they can choose to do other things that they come up with. I think it’s that freedom of choice that is important.”
Steve Long has two sons who have attended the Center for roughly four years. He said his sons come to the Center once a week to diversify their homeschooling experiences.
“I think it’s important that they get to do things separate from each other here,” Long said. “We’re always taking them to dance recitals and to the Academy of Natural Science, and the Zoo; we have memberships to all of those places.
“Coming here, it’s nice because it’s not too structured. It’s child-led education, so they get to dictate what they want to do.”
What students say
Nedim O’Connor, 13, has been homeschooled his entire life. He also enjoys the freedom of the Center’s activities.
“I like that I have options. So, we’re not just sitting around all day,” he said. “Every day, I can choose to do something different. We also have structured classes that I enjoy but in general, I like the freeness of it.”
Center student Chris Mozinski came up with the idea for the event. Hosting a walk for the Center was derived from his love for event planning.
“I started having an interest in fundraising and event planning a while ago, and I started a little group or firm that deals with fundraising and event management for non-profits,” he said. “Also, since, I attend Talking Stick and I realized they needed some fundraising done, I was, like, I love doing this, so I thought let’s find something we can do to raise money for them.”
The event raised nearly $400.
Talking Stick Board member Heather Gray said the event was a success mainly because of Mozinski’s efforts.
“I would consider it a success no matter how much we raised because Chris, the way he reeled in sponsors and contacted people and even baked some of the foods that were sold,” Gray said. “He made such an amazing effort.”