It may take a village “to raise a child to be their best selves,” but educator Emi Gittleman and her team at Get Empowered are up for the task.
The organization – which manifests the African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” – is working to empower children in different communities around the nation through arts and education.
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The idea was formed about six years ago after Gittleman – who has been an educator for over two decades – saw how her students were struggling with learning and even with “just the everyday challenges of being a kid and growing up,” she told Fox News.
Gittleman wanted to “bring some more positivity into people’s lives.” So she started bringing music, dance, arts and environmental activities into the classroom.
“It lit the kids up,” she said. “That gave rise to this initiative that we created a project called Get Empowered.”
With Get Empowered, Gittleman and her team custom design programs to utilize “each participant’s strengths and potential through a range of energizing and engaging arts-based education experiences that emphasize diversity and inclusion in positive ways,” according to the organization’s website.
The programs might include drumming, dancing, Brazilian capoeira, martial arts or storytelling, she said.
To start the organization, Gittleman garnered the help of a businessman that had two children with special needs.
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“He kept saying that he was so sad that his kids and his family were struggling to find things that would help them feel more self-love and more confident and more successful,” she said. “They just weren’t finding it.”
Now, Get Empowered is bringing its programs to a range of environments “to help as many children as possible” from school or homeschooling settings to community centers, pediatric hospitals, homeless shelters and summer camps around the nation.
“Everybody in the room gets engaged in a highly dynamic, interactive way to learn and feed off of each other and create something together,” Gittleman said.
Each program has the same goal: to make sure “everybody in some way, shape or form feels welcomed and included.”
Get Empowered also holds adult workshops to help parents build their children’s confidence, both in and outside the classroom.
For Gittleman, empowerment simply is “the gift that keeps on giving in life.”