Tak­ing kids ‘Be­yond the Class­room’

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By TIF­FANY WAT­SON twat­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @Tif­fIndyNews

Washington Wizards player John Wall signs au­to­graphs for Lisa Am­bers, founder and pres­i­dent of Be­yond The Class­room, and lo­cal chil­dren dur­ing a meet and greet with the team at Six Flags in 2016. See in­side for more about Am­bers and her vi­sion for the pro­gram and lo­cal youth

A lo­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion is get­ting the youth in­volved in ways that are out of the norm — and not ac­com­plished be­hind a desk. Be­yond The Class­room Inc. has be­come a dream come true for young peo­ple who rarely get to ex­pe­ri­ence ex­cit­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in the Washington, D.C. metropoli­tan area.

“I’ve al­ways had a love for the youth,” said Lisa Am­bers, founder and pres­i­dent of Be­yond The Class­room. “In the past, I’ve served on the PTSO/ PTA Boards at my son’s schools, served as a men­tor and the leader of the Teen Girls Min­istry at my church Taber­na­cle of Praise. Due to the suc­cess of the pro­grams at my church and with lots of en­cour­age­ment from my pas­tor, An­to­nio Matthews, I de­cided to start this non­profit to reach more youth.”

“As a pas­tor I guide those who are con­nected to my min­istry into their pur­pose and life as­sign­ment, and that’s what I did with Lisa,” said the Rev. An­to­nio Matthews. “I heard her speak her heart on many oc­ca­sions, and I be­gan to re­it­er­ate to her what I heard her say­ing. Her vi­sion and pur­pose was al­ways there; I be­lieve I was one of the voices that helped Lisa push out what was al­ready in her.”

Be­yond The Class­room Inc. launched in De­cem­ber 2016. The mis­sion of BTC, a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, is to ex­pose chil­dren and young adults to peo­ple, places and things they would not nor­mally or eas­ily be able to ac­cess in their daily lives. By pro­vid­ing unique, ed­u­ca­tional and fun ex­pe­ri­ences, they em­power youth to see the world out­side of their class­rooms and neigh­bor­hoods, grow hope in their fu­ture, pur­sue ac­tive roles in so­ci­ety and achieve goals.

Be­yond The Class­room pro­grams are for youth ages 6 years old and up, with at least 50 or more par­tic­i­pants at­tend­ing each event. Am­bers said fund­ing for the or­ga­ni­za­tion is pro­vided through part­ner­ships with other or­ga­ni­za­tions, as well as do­na­tions and con­tri­bu­tions from sup­port­ers of the lo­cal youth.

Ac­tiv­i­ties pro­vided by Be­yond the Class­room in­clude learn­ing work­shops, ed­u­ca­tional trips, so­cial aware­ness classes and com­mu­nity ser­vice ac­tiv­i­ties. It will soon launch a men­tor­ing club named “But­ter­flies” for girls ages 6-12. Chil­dren and young adults are in­volved from across Maryland, Vir­ginia and Washington, D.C.

Re­cent ex­pe­ri­ences for lo­cal youth in­cluded vi­sion board work­shops, a mis­sion trip over­view, a spring break party at Sky Zone tram­po­line park and a fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy work­shop. Par­tic­i­pants have also been on trips to see Dis­ney on Ice, the Har­lem Globetrotters and the Cap­i­tal Clas­sic bas­ket­ball games.

“At the vi­sion board work­shops, the youth cre­ated their own vi­sion boards re­flect­ing goals and things they want to have man­i­fested in their lives. Fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy work­shops teach youth how to be fi­nan­cially re­spon­si­ble — bud­get­ing, sav­ings and es­tab­lish­ing credit. At the meet-and­greet with the Washington Wizards, the chil­dren had an op­por­tu­nity to get au­to­graphs from sev­eral Wizards play­ers in­clud­ing John Wall and Bradley Beal,” Am­bers said.

Sarita Lynn, CEO of Skie Pub­lish­ing, is a mom whose chil­dren have at­tended many Be­yond The Class­room events.

“I have known Lisa for five years and she truly has a heart and pas­sion for chil­dren,” Lynn said. “My daugh­ters Ebony and Imani have par­tic­i­pated in count­less pro­grams and ac­tiv­i­ties that Be­yond the Class­room has or­ga­nized, and it has en­riched their lives tremen­dously. I have seen where Lisa has gone out her way to pick up chil­dren, spent money out of her own pocket to en­sure no child was left out.

“Charles County is for­tu­nate to have Lisa and Be­yond the Class­room in our neigh­bor­hoods to teach our chil­dren fi­nan­cial lit­er­acy prin­ci­ples, life lessons strate­gies, con­fi­dence and aware­ness around bul­ly­ing,” Lynn con­tin­ued. “If we had more peo­ple like Lisa who loved our kids and took the time to men­tor them, this world would be a bet­ter place to live.”

Pas­tor Matthews said the Be­yond The Class­room is vi­tal to the com­mu­nity be­cause pro­grams like these are im­por­tant to the elas­tic­ity of a devel­op­ing child’s mind. “As a child, af­ter school we were ex­posed to things that school only touched on, but not in depth. This will help open them up to other cul­tures, eth­nic­i­ties and many more nu­ances our world has to of­fer, not just in the class­room set­ting,” Matthews said.

Am­bers said she will con­tinue to de­velop Be­yond The Class­room by of­fer­ing af­ter school ac­tiv­i­ties, sum­mer camps and more unique ex­pe­ri­ences. Up­com­ing Be­yond The Class­room events in­clude a visit to the James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter, trips to see the Washington Na­tion­als and the South­ern Maryland Blue Crabs, as well as an anti-bul­ly­ing work­shop.

“Be­yond The Class­room de­liv­ers ex­pe­ri­ences that trans­form lives ... it’s all about pos­i­tive ex­po­sure,” Am­bers said.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.be­yondthe­class­room­inc.org.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Lisa Am­bers, founder and pres­i­dent of Be­yond The Class­room, with par­ents and lo­cal chil­dren dur­ing the Vi­sion Board Work­shop at Wal­dorf West Li­brary.

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