By Julia Duggs
UCSD REAL Collective, Student Coordinator & Mentor
SAY San Diego is pleased to partner with the R.E.A.L. Collective at O’Farrell Charter School’s Family Support Services (FSS). The R.E.A.L. Collective—which stands for Relationships, Education, Agency, and Leadership—aims to support O’Farrell youth with the help of UC San Diego mentors in an after-school peer support group. O’Farrell and UCSD students meet as a group once a week to participate in fun, yet challenging community-building and social-emotional learning activities. The R.E.A.L. Collective is a space for students to express themselves, find community, grow as critical thinkers, and transform into active members of their communities.
As a new program to O’Farrell, the first semester of activities placed emphasis on cultivating positive mentor-mentee relationships to allow youth self-expression to flourish. Some of the students’ favorite activities were playing basketball with their mentors, creating experimental slime, and designing ugly Christmas sweaters. In December, the R.E.A.L. Collective had the opportunity to take a field trip to the Birch Aquarium. The students explored the world of marine biology by trying on cold water immersion suits from scientific expeditions. With the guidance of Birch volunteers, the students were able to closely discover marine life, like sea anemones and sea cucumbers, in the aquarium’s tide pools.
As the R.E.A.L. Collective transitions into the New Year, UCSD mentors will begin to implement strategies for advancing O’Farrell students’ academic performance, volunteer experiences, and college/career interests. The R.E.A.L. Collective also looks forward to fostering a stronger support network among the students’ families.