In case you missed it, our own Jan Helson, the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board, was recently invited to participate in a local podcast series hosted by Lenihan Sotheby’s International Realty. In this episode, Jan had the opportunity to speak about our programs and mission and to really share her vision with a new audience!
Below, you can find a brief summary of Jan’s Global Game Changers interview, or you can listen to the full episode by using the player above.
Global Game Changers Podcast Summary
The Global Game Changers program is a non-profit organization founded in 2013 whose mission is to enrich the lives of children (pre-k through grade 5) with an empowering curriculum. The group started here in Louisville, where Helson has lived her whole life, but has since expanded to a small American-speaking elementary school outside Mexico City, as well as programs in Texas, Washington, Indiana and Florida.
The Global Game Changers believe that early intervention for at-risk, under-served children will do wonders for academic performance and the development of social-emotional skills. “There is a 6,000 hour enrichment gap for under-served children by the time they reach sixth grade – in our community and in our country,” Helson states.
“Our saying is: MY TALENT + MY HEART = MY SUPERPOWER!™, and that really is the foundation of our program,” explains Helson. “The curriculum isn’t taught in a traditional classroom structure – it’s very project-based, hands-on, interactive learning that is fun-natured,” she adds. Their goal is to open up kids to learning and give them a purpose to want to learn.
The non-profit isn’t “reinventing the wheel,” so to speak, but is, rather, partnering with local organizations like the Muhammad Ali Center, the YMCA of Greater Louisville, Metro United Way, JCPS, Metro Parks, and a multitude of others. It’s particularly rewarding to see kids at the ever-expanding YMCA programs become more engaged in service. One first grader from the Muhammad Ali program built a free library for Salvation Army veterans as part of his superpower project. Later, organizers learned that his family had been living homeless at The Salvation Army a year prior, so he wanted to give back. “It was a really touching moment for a child who had been through that type of background to reach that level of maturity through the program.”
To be sure they’re doing right by the kids, Helson says they’re measuring test scores, academics, behavioral issues, and attendance. Of course, they are also assessing students for less tangible effects like improvements in self-confidence, empathy, compassion and willingness to give back. They do focus groups, interviews, and take a hard look at the metrics.
People looking to get involved can volunteer at a number of public events throughout the year. Sixty volunteers are needed for their popular “Discover Your Superpower” occurring the last Sunday in August, which will feature a superhero photo booth, cape-making craft, and other activities. Last year, more than 1,400 attendees came – which was quite a bit more than the 400 people who came the first year.
The Great Cape Escape is The Global Game Changers’ first fundraiser, taking place September 16th. Participants will enjoy a four-course Mexican meal from Mi Cocina and compete on teams to see who can escape a locked room first. “It’s all the rage,” says Helson, “so we are really happy to be partnering with Locked In downtown on 4th Street to offer this unique event.”