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Memorial Day Family Activities

Memorial Day Family Activities

Philadelphia is a city in a park, which means there’s always green space, towering trees and stunning landscapes to be found just a heartbeat away from Center City. Check out all the ways to get outside this weekend without leaving the city:

Meet Nazia Adeyemi.

Meet Nazia Adeyemi.

We all have wake up moments. Sometimes they have to do with our current pattern of life and its contrast with our desired futures. Sometimes these moments generate a new outlook or perspective about ourselves and our relationship to others. Sometimes, it’s all of the above. 

Wake-up moments for Nazia Adekyami are in the all of the above category. Nazia became a mother at the young age of 19 and had to be immediately very practical about employment and training after high school. Many around her were in the health field as CNAs and her grandmother told her CNAs always have a job. Ten years of life went by and while Nazia’s family had grown, her paycheck had not. She was struggling to pay rent, her car broke down, and with the inconsistent work schedule of a CNA, it was hard to have quality time with her daughters. “I couldn’t be an effective parent if I was always worried about food, clothing, and shelter. Something needed to change.“ 

Wake up moment #1. Recognizing things were not going the way she wanted, Nazia imagined where she wanted to be at age 50. “I wanted to not struggle all the time, to have a level of comfort and stability.” She took pen to paper and wrote down the kind of life she wanted. Then she asked a key question, “What can I do now to get there?” Asking and answering this question translates the want for a better life from the mind into tangible actions in the now. For Nazia, earning a college degree was part of the answer. 

A local resident, Nazia learned about and enrolled in the partnership site program in Chester as a Human Services major. This program was the right fit for Nazia. “I had to cross off every excuse I’ve had for not continuing.” Classes were around the corner from home, so she could walk to class in case the car broke down, and took place during evening hours, so she could work and go to school. Nazia also appreciated the family atmosphere of the site. Partnership site staff offered constant encouragement and ensured students stayed on track. Rather than being a number, instructors knew the students, and students supported one another through life experiences and struggles shared as part of classroom discussion. In Nazai’s case, experiencing the partnership site as a family took on another level of meaning when she met and married a math instructor in the program! “By the end of math 113, we were a couple and my husband was a groomsman in the wedding of another partnership site couple.” (see Drue and Michael Bailey, February newsletter). 

Alongside the joy of new love came the sacrifice going to college required for this working single parent. Nazia worked as a CNA overnight from 11 to 7, returned home to get her children ready for and delivered to school, and then went to a second client from 9 -12. 12 – 2 was reserved for cooking dinner and doing her own schoolwork before picking her daughters up from school. On two evenings per week, this routine was followed by Nazia attending college classes from 5-9. “It was difficult, But when I walked across that stage and got my degree with my children clapping for me from the front row, it was worth it.” Throughout the program, Nazia knew her daughters were watching her, but perhaps didn’t realize how closely. Witnessing all of her mom’s hard work was Nazia’s oldest daughter who later told her, “Mom, watching you get up early to make sure your assignments were done, staying up late at night, and going to work motivated me to be the best student I could be.” 

Wake up moment #2 predated but prepared Nazia for her postsecondary journey. While looking for the office of her daughter’s new pediatrician, Nazia asked for directions from a counselor whose office was nearby. She enjoyed their conversation and kind spirit of this woman, and took her up on an invitation to return for a session. As is standard for a first counseling session, Nazia was asked to talk about her family background and experience growing up. The counselor listened as she spoke matter of factly about growing up with a single mother whose addition meant she wasn’t around for her young daughter. From age 8 to 14, Nazia lived with her grandmother, followed by difficult housing situations until age 19. “I’ve been through a lot.” Nazia didn’t realize how much she had to share and before she knew it, time was up for the first session. On her way out, the counselor said gently, “You’ve experienced a lot of trauma in your life.” 

Trauma?,” Nazia thought to herself. ”It was the first time I had ever been told that the things I had gone through were traumatic; it was just the norm in the community.” Through counseling, Nazia learned that wounds she thought time had taken care of were still very much affecting her as an adult. She accepted and opened herself to this realization and it was then that her journey toward real healing began. 

With a passion for helping people, it came quickly to Nazia’s mind that many other people likely have the same story. “How can I help them be more aware and cognizant that things from childhood affect you in adulthood?”

Wake-up moment #3. The seed for her training company, No More Trauma Consulting, was planted. No More Trauma consulting is an organization that assists and supports adults with identifying and healing unresolved childhood trauma. Her vision began to develop while in the Human Services program, as she strengthened her skills in listening, empathy and self-awareness through classroom-based case studies and role plays. Though graduating with the class of 2017, it wasn’t until 2020 that Nazia founded her company. “I always equate things like this to being pregnant and giving birth. I was pregnant with an idea, but it wasn’t quite time to give birth. It still had to grow, develop, and get strong so it could survive.” Nazia also felt she needed to grow personally to be an effective Life Coach. “LIke I tell my clients, I had to do my own work.”

Nazia is currently shaping the No More Trauma training curriculum into an online, self-paced course that concludes with an individual coaching session. In the meantime, she has become an author! “Sumaya’s Secret” tells the story of a young African-American Muslim woman’s struggle with identity and self-discovery. Click here to learn more about Nazia and Sumaya’s Secret. 

Visit No More Trauma Consulting on facebook https://www.facebook.com/nomoretraumaconsulting/  

Get Outside & Renew!

Get Outside & Renew!

Want to get the kids (and yourself) offline to unwind this weekend?  How about a scavenger hunt? Or hunting for treasure via geocaching? You don’t have to travel far to reconnect with nature. Here are some easily accessible park and nature trail links for both the easy strollers and the adventurous spirits.

  • Create your own scavenger hunt for your family. Have players collect items or take pictures with a phone. Ideas: Natural Objects (unique leaf, smooth stone, a seed); Errands (grocery store seek and find); Neighborhood (landmarks, lawn decor, signs, get people to wave at a window); Alphabet (find the letters on a walk, count objects that start with a letter). Apps to help: Goosechase, Huntzz 
  • Geocaching. Look for “treasures” hidden by others in woods, forests, parks, and paths using mapping technology. Waze meets seek-n-find. Create a free account at Geocaching.Com to find cache locations nearby. 
  • Go roller skating in Center City. Yup. Rothman Orthopaedics Roller Rink at Dilworth Park. Guests will find a colorful overhead installation and music that delivers retro vibes outside. Advance reservations for hour-long skate sessions are required.

To the Parks!

  • Wissahickon Valley Park. Explore the Wissahickon’s seven miles of creek, 1800 acres of forested gorge, and 50-plus miles of trails. Here’s a guide for your experience: https://fow.org/visit-the-park/maps/  + a map app
  • John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum. 8601 Lindbergh Blvd. Have a stroll and observe the hundreds of species of plants, trees, birds, insects and mammals with whom we humans share the planet.  https://www.fws.gov/refuge/john_heinz/
  • Gray’s Ferry Crescent Trail Park https://www.schuylkillbanks.org/explore with entry at 1300 Schuylkill Avenue is an urban green space with river & skyline views, a hiking & biking path, a skate park & fishing areas. Access points available from Bartram’s Garden in southwest Philly to 34th and Wharton to the Art Museum area. Consider doing Bartram’s Mile (west bank of the Schuylkill River between Grays Ferry Avenue and 56th Street). See trail map for details: https://www.schuylkillbanks.org/trail-map  
  • The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education. Located in northwest Philadelphia and one of the first urban environmental centers in the country. Explore 340 acres of fields, forests, ponds and streams.https://www.schuylkillcenter.org/
Congratulations Class of 2021!!!

Congratulations Class of 2021!!!

You did it! Your hard work and dedication to invest in yourselves has (and will) paid off!!! Congratulations for persisting through the chaos covid-19 brought to your college and learning experience. And though it’s continued presence prevents an in-person commencement, your achievements are no less celebrated and honored by the I-LEAD and Harcum community. WAY TO GO!!!

The late nights of paper writing and long evenings with zoom have been worth it to get to this moment. You have kept your vision to earn a college degree front of mind and heart and made it happen. We hope you are as proud of you as we are!

Please keep in touch and tell us what’s next! We know our students have their eyes on the prize. What job move can now be pursued? What promotion is on the horizon? Who among family member(s) and friends are inspired to earn their degree because of your example and achievement?  How do you see yourself now compared to that first class? And (you knew this was coming…) Where are you going for your Bachelor’s Degree? We’d love to hear! Reach out to us: [email protected]

Congratulations. Celebrate. And breathe it in. You are a warrior. “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  – Nelson Mandela

Meet Barbara Blunt.

Meet Barbara Blunt.

A retired grandmother. An image of a woman sitting and knitting quietly on the porch comes to mind, right? Not this grandmother!!! Barbara Blunt is a self-described “mover-and-shaker.” After 25 years as a home health aide, a restful retirement may seem in order. But Ms. Blunt had no plans to stay at home. Instead, she enrolled in college upon seeing a sign for the ACE program at a church in the neighborhood. For Barbara, it was a natural next step to gain the skills for her “retirement” career – a real estate business. “I knew I needed more education.” 

Alongside her enrollment in college was Ms. Blunt’s election to serve as President of the Board of the Senior Citizen Council in her senior housing complex. Expressions of surprise at her from other members regarding her enrollment in college were met with a strong smile and the solid encouragement, “You can do it too.” Ms. Blunt put the skills she was learning in Human Services classes immediately to work, helping residents to solve problems and representing them at public meetings. “The program prepared me to do what I love most – helping people.”

Ms. Blunt became an integral part of the supportive atmosphere she found at the partnership site. Instructors, staff, and students were always helping each other to succeed. She was able to share her opinions, knowledge, and goals which strengthened her confidence while earning a degree.

While Ms. Blunt notes the inspiration she gained through the aspirations and achievements of her classmates, she has inspired generations of her family to further their education. “I am the mother of two and grandmother of 12. Almost all of my grandchildren have gone to college or aspire to go. My daughter tells me, “Mom that’s because of you.”

Happy Mother’s Day!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Shout out to all the Moms among our students and alumni! You are loved and appreciated. We know how hard you work and are always doing for others. Be encouraged to make some time for self-care amidst all the caring you do. Enjoy your day and soak in the love of your family!

There is no single poem that can express the job, the wonder, the joy, the transforming nature of motherhood. An assembly of quotations and reflections from a variety of voices felt more apt.

“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” Jill Churchill

“Birth takes a woman’s deepest fears about herself and shows her that she is stronger than them.” Unknown

“The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.” Barbara Kingsolver

The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.” Honore’ de Balzac

“When I stopped seeing my mother with the eyes of a child, I saw the woman who helped me give birth to myself.” Nancy Friday

“For when a child is born the mother also is born again.” Gilbert Parker

“God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers.” Jewish proverb

“Mothers hold their children’s hands for a short while, but their hearts forever.” Author Unknown

“If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?” Milton Berle

“When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” Sophia Loren

“My mother’s love has always been a sustaining force for our family, and one of my greatest joys is seeing her integrity, her compassion, her intelligence reflected in my daughters.”  Michelle Obama

“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” Maya Angelou

“Being a mom has made me so tired. And so happy.” Tina Fey

“Having children puts the whole world into perspective. Everything else just disappears.” Kate Winslet

“Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; a mother’s secret hope outlives them all.” Oliver Wendell Holmes

“I believe the choice to become a mother is the choice to become one of the greatest spiritual teachers there is.” Oprah Winfrey

“Life doesn’t come with a manual, it comes with a mother.” Unknown

“I am sure that if the mothers of various nations could meet, there would be no more wars.” E.M. Forster

“A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take.” Cardinal Meymillod

“Motherhood is the greatest thing and the hardest thing.” Rikki Lake

“Motherhood changes everything.” Adriana Trigiani

“There is nothing in the world of art like the songs mother used to sing.” Billy Sunday 

“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” Robert Browning

“Children are the anchors that hold a mother to life.” Sophocles

“There is such a special sweetness in being able to participate in creation.” Pamela S. Nadav

“[My mother] had handed down respect for the possibilities—and the will to grasp them.” Alice Walker

“Having kids—the responsibility of rearing good, kind, ethical, responsible human beings—is the biggest job anyone can embark on.” Maria Shriver