The Echo Effect
The Echo Effect is dedicated to helping Smyrna’s youth increase their strive to learn through education and mentoring. Our goal is to encourage forward movement by improving self-esteem, motivation, and by developing a positive vision of their future. Developing these qualities within each youth will then naturally progress into an effect; an effect which will stimulate other youth outside of the organization to do as their peers are; learning, motivating, and becoming self empowered to strive for a better future. Much as an echo can be heard down a long hallway, our vision is to see this echo move through the children and adolescents of Smyrna.
Moving from where you currently feel that you are, toward a more positive place, to include successfully advancing to the next grade level in school.
Build on Interests and Skills
We believe that each person was born with a propensity toward certain talents and interests. We strive to find this in each child/adolescent and to bring it out in and be recognized by that child/adolescent as well as others. Educational field trips and job shadowing opportunities are two important ways that we help them to recognize these talents and interests.
Improve Self Esteem
By accepting each child/adolescent for who they truly are, and by assisting them to build from that place, we help them to build self-esteem. Further, by teaching them that we are not here on earth to do “it all” on our own, but that we all need each other, it will help them see that it’s okay to accept and seek help. This will help them see that they are okay just the way they are –that they (like the rest of us) just need someone to encourage and help them along the way. They need to understand that their parents do all they can and so do the teachers. By creating a team of support around them, which includes parents, family, teachers, others and us, they will feel a sense of belonging.
Positive Vision of Future
With improved self-esteem and a sense of belonging, one can dare to dream. We want to help instill hope that with hard work and determination, dreams can be realized.
At this point, the youth will start feeling a sense of empowerment. “Perhaps I have some control over my life”.
By learning who you are, believing in a more positive future, recognizing that through work and determination based on choices I make, my life can change. This will spur motivation.
We are now close to the ultimate goal Echo. As each child/adolescent grows through this process and sees the changes in his/her life, they are encouraged to be a role model to others. This starts the moment they come to us, but will be fully developed by the time they progress through these “steps”. They will forward the echo…
Echo – the ultimate goal!
What We Do
The Echo Effect is a Christ centered social service organization focusing on at-risk children and adolescents by providing tutoring, mentoring, advocacy, and support. We focus on development and empowerment, with the overall goal of guiding the youth to become productive and contributing members of society. Our advocacy efforts range from personal advocacy to promoting social justice, with the recognition that every person has equal worth regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, or gender. We provide support by offering a place to connect with friends and positive adult role models; connecting those we serve to other community organizations (leisure, personal growth, assistance); act as liaisons with schools and other entities; and transportation as deemed appropriate. We minister to children and youth with minimal parental involvement, and those who live in mixed undocumented/documented households, while also connecting with their families as applicable.
We provide a caring environment, with a hot meal or nutritious snacks, homework help and recreational activities for grades 2-12 two evenings per week. In addition, we stay in touch with the children and adolescents beyond the scheduled hours, providing support and advocacy. We act as liaisons with schools and various local organizations.
What Echo Leaders Do
The role of Echo leaders is to mentor, encourage and empower our children/adolescents so they have a sense of belonging and know they are accepted and loved for who they are, right where they are! To offer a dynamic presence, that reflects the joy, peace and love (of CHRIST). To give aid where aid is needed, to be a counselor, friend, mentor and role model.
Purpose? To build relationships with the youth so that we can cheer them on as they learn basic academic skills, cultivate a desire to learn, understand that equality is for all, and there is a purpose to their life.
How? Through games, crafts, community building, discussions and homework we develop relationships with each child in Echo. It is our responsibility to offer the children/adolescents a loving environment where they feel inspired, loved and accepted. Through conversations, a big smile, and participating in their lives we can encourage them to make positive changes in their lives. By noticing and fostering their strengths, talents and interests and engaging in intentional conversations we can challenge them to be who they were made to be. We join in with the activities, keeping an attitude that is young at heart but mature in mindset, leading to fun both for the students and the leaders.
We are careful not to pass judgement – students often express their inner turmoil through outward expressions. Some of our students have a difficult home life. Our job is to love them right where they are; this requires compassion, patience and love on our part. We want to teach them that they are still lovable even if they are struggling; we can accomplish this thru taking time to listen and joining in with the games/crafts, discussions, and laughing.
May we challenge ourselves in praying as often as possible for them, knowing God is the one who made them for a purpose out of His love for them.
Here are ten specific rewards that teenagers receive from ECHO:
- Another significant adult is caring for them and cheering them on.
- They are encouraged to grow spiritually on their own by someone other than mom/dad.
- They find support during turbulent times in their life.
- Presence at their sporting events or key activities.
- Someone who is excited to see them at church.
- Someone actually notices and misses them when they’re not at church or small group.
- A caring friend leaves them voice messages “just because I was thinking of you.”
- They have a neutral adult who doesn’t freak-out over bad grades.
- They develop a “safe” person to talk to.
- Adult leaders become a tender, yet truthful voice when they need a little correcting.
- Support – experiencing people and places that are accepting and loving.
- Empowerment – knowing they are valued and valuable.
- Boundaries and Expectations – understanding the limits and possibilities.
- Constructive use of time – being involved in enriching and structured activities.
- Commitment to learning – Believing that education is important and engaging.
- Positive values – caring for others and holding high standards for self.
- Social competencies – developing skills and relationships for life.
- Positive identity – believing in their personal power, purpose and potential.