Ambassadors 4 Greatness

What if children could grow strong on the inside in elementary school and be ambassadors for seeing and inspiring that Greatness in others.

Photo of Laura Pladson
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

Our school has embraced The Nurtured Heart Approach (Registered) created by Howard Glasser. This is a relational methodology for adults to grow Inner Wealth (R) in children. Both of us became trainers in this approach and noticed the interventions were being targeted at the intense children in our schools. We noticed there wasn't a proactive leadership-empowering approach for children that had the potential to increase all children's Inner Wealth. We wondered - instead of reacting to children's behavior, could we intervene proactively and change the landscape of children's mental health by helping all children to grow strong on the inside? In turn, could we have those children build other children's Inner Wealth and serve as mentors and leaders within their schools, homes, and communities?

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • White (for example: German, Irish, English, Italian, Polish, French, Caucasian)

Website

Our district website is www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us and at Eastwood we serve 14% ELL, 44% Free and Reduced lunch and 39% non-Caucasian students. We currently do not have a website for our initiative.

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • North Dakota

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

West Fargo

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • North Dakota

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

West Fargo

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Children's behavioral, emotional and mental health issues continue to be a problem nationwide but is a targeted area in the state of ND. Rather than react to suicide, depression, anxiety, bullying, etc. our project seeks to target children's well being prior to moving into adolescence in order to build their Internal Wealth and social emotional well-being and develop a culture of empathy for each other.

Children grow strong on the inside when they know who they are and are given irrefutable evidence of it. When children are strong on the inside they are able to cope and maintain their mental, emotional and social well being. They also become empowered to recognize and put words to the Greatness they see in others thus becoming Ambassadors for Greatness and Changemakers on a personal, family, school, community and world level.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Children who are differently abled
  • Religious minorities (non-Christian)
  • Low-income communities
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Child and Family Services
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Mental Health

Year Founded

2015

Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

In the current expanded pilot, all 5th graders received 7 sessions where they directly learn and practice the relationship methodology of The Nurtured Heart approach which is: Stand 1: I will not get into the negative; Stand 2: I will see and recognize what is going right; Stand 3: I will have clear expectations and boundaries and learn to reset myself to Greatness as often as necessary. After those sessions are complete, students are given the opportunity to self select to participate in the next level of Ambassadors for Greatness (A4G). They are paired with younger grades on a weekly basis with the intention to recognize the Greatness they see in the children within that classroom. A trainer provides mentoring and coaching for each one.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

During the last round of training, from March to May of 2016 there were no office referrals for disruptive behavior or interpersonal relationship issues such as bullying in the 5th grade. Positive changes were made in positive self-talk, the ability to change negative self-talk to something more positive, more empathy, increase in usage of coping skills and a growth mindset. The principal was so amazed that she requested all 4th graders be taught this approach next year in addition to all 5th graders as nothing changed significantly in the school aside from adding A4G. Children also had an increase in their ability to identify their own positive character qualities with an "I am" statement such as "I am optimistic." Unrequested, several 5th grade parents called in to report noticing their children recognizing younger sibling's Greatness and an improvement in their sibling relationships.

Organization Type

  • government

Annual Budget

  • less than $1k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The money that is needed is for curriculum development and to move the program toward evidence and research based. There is minimal costs to provide implementation if access to all students is possible. One must be a Nurtured Heart Approach Certified Trainer. The cost of training a trainer in The Nurtured Heart Approach is $1500-$2000, and renewals are every 3 years at $750-$1000.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

There are other mental health initiatives, but few people are talking about how to help students proactively at the elementary level when it comes to the social, emotional and mental wellness of students. The Greatness Kid's Initiative was created by another Nurtured Heart Approach trainer. The difference is that ours is elementary versus secondary, is proactive and for all students, and involves leadership, mentoring and coaching versus just teaching the children to apply the approach to themselves.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

Being proactive and having adults empower students and build their Inner Wealth at younger ages so students can self-sustain social, mental and emotional well-being and be equipped with coping skills for a lifetime. Educating parents regarding the importance of children's social, emotional and mental health and how to impact it positively.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Email

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Photo of Lee Erickson
Team

Hi, Laura - I just came across your program and looked at it. Nice work! We only live 40 miles away from each other. Our Reality Check program is built on a foundation of respect for self and respect for others before moving onto related issues, but yours is deeper in those areas and would be a nice supplemental effort. 

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