Made for Freedom highlights the work of Neighborhood Houses, a partner in preventing exploitation
In honor of Human Trafficking Awareness Month, we are highlighting organizations whose work contributes to a world free from human trafficking. In our earlier blog that took a closer look at exploitation, we discussed a variety of circumstances that can cause vulnerabilities in a community, which can increase the likelihood of exploitation and human trafficking.
Today, we wanted to take a moment to highlight the work of Neighborhood Houses, a 103-year old St Louis nonprofit agency that believes all children can reach their magnificent potential. This organization is doing incredibly important work to help provide life experiences and support systems around youth in St. Louis to help them to be less likely to perpetrate the cycles of exploitation. They are truly providing their community & the children they serve with strength and dignity.
Neighborhood Houses provides educational and empowering experiences for you in St. Louis with the goal of "closing the opportunity gap" for these children.
They do this through:
- Early childhood care and education programs
- Before & after school programming
- A teen mom's support group
- A social enterprise & entrepreneurship program for teen boys
Their work is critical to the work of organizations like Made for Freedom in a number of ways.
Reducing risks for exploitation in St Louis
At Neighborhood Houses, the volunteers and employees that work with kids from their very first few weeks of life through their high school years have a singular focus: providing opportunities to children that will help them to reach their magnificent potential.
"Through our programs, we are working to help our children expand their world views. We read to our children in our early childhood centers from just a few weeks of age to help them develop a more robust and advanced vocabulary," said David Carroll, Chief Program Officer at Neighborhood Houses.
This seemingly small step can make a big difference. Studies have shown that children with stronger vocabularies and vocabulary comprehension are often afforded more opportunities for success in their lives.
"As they move into school age, we give them broader experiences - such as sleep away camps outside of their urban area - to expand their life experience. That is an opportunity, an experience they may never have gotten otherwise," said Carroll.
These experiences are meant to help children begin to imagine a better future for themselves. "Once you have experienced these opportunities, you realize your self worth and you create aspirations and dreams and goals, and you are less likely to engage in a lot of the dangerous behaviors or to fall victim to someone introducing something negative, because you know you have a plan."
Social enterprise program for teens: Learning job skills & life skills screen printing fashion tees
For older teens, the organization offers a program called "Magnificent Creations." The program offers young men who are 16 to 19 years old in the city of St Louis a unique opportunity to learn marketable life skills and professional skills through their employment.
Magnificent Creations teaches the young men about entrepreneurship, character development, small business ownership, and it helps them to develop a strong work ethic as well. Young men get a paycheck for working in a screen print shop.
In 2016, we partnered with Neighborhood Houses' Magnificent Creations program for the screen printing on our 314 Tees. Through our partnership on our new 314 tees (which sold out very quickly!), we were able to impact and benefit their hardworking youth in St Louis and young women living in poverty in Haiti. Talk about global AND local impact! We're thankful for their partnership and humbled to be a part of their work.
Click here to view other womens fashion tees made in partnership with Magnificent Creations.
Providing employment opportunities that build a stronger community
For our older kids, the opportunity to work keeps young men from engaging in other harmful activities. The unemployment rate for young African American kids is well over 50%, so we're looking to help them find opportunities, to help them fill their time.
Through these programs, we are able to help youth overcome the opportunity gap. What is the opportunity gap? If you can't see it, you are far less likely to achieve it. If you don't know a doctor, a lawyer or other person who has admirable life experiences or opportunities, your personal goals and vision become limited, and so do your life experiences.
To learn more about this incredible organization and their work in the St Louis area, visit http://neighborhoodhouses.org