First fundraiser for the region - the WINGS Charlotte Inaugural SOAR Awards on May 4th - honors some of the most recognized faces in Charlotte.
The WINGS SOAR Awards were designed to celebrate local heroes who advocate for equity in education, quality out-of-school time activities and resources to help marginalized communities. This year’s honorees epitomize what it takes to be a fearless leader and champion for those who often remain voiceless. We are thrilled to honor our pioneer awardees:
- ● The Honorable Jennifer Roberts (Mayor, City of Charlotte)
- ● Debra Plousha Moore (Systems Chief of Staff and Executive Vice President, Carolinas HealthCare System)
- ● Jay Everette (Senior Vice President Community Affairs, Wells Fargo)
- ● Richard “Stick” Williams (Retired, Duke Energy Foundation President)
With research clearly revealing that when taught as explicitly as traditional curriculum, such as reading, math and science, social and emotional learning (SEL) increases academic achievement, school attendance, reduces delinquent behavior and nurtures empathy, so it should come as no surprise that WINGS kids are taking what they’ve learned back into the classroom. When that happens a paradigm shift occurs in the relationship between student and teacher. Students are able to articulate and express thoughts with clarity and with composure. They are more likely to have healthy dialogues with teachers, who are more empathetic and supportive; and likewise. Perhaps that’s why so many school districts nationwide have adopted some aspect of social and emotional pedagogy as part of their curricula studies.
In the aftermath of a city thrust into the national spotlight following a tragedy that is all too familiar across our country, rays of promise and hope are illuminating a path toward reconciliation and a deeper call to action in the Charlotte community. WINGS is one of the many examples of how adults are coming together to help youth learn how to become positive, empathic, compassionate and productive citizens.
I recently came upon a New York Times article illustrating how cortisol levels increase when the human body experiences “flight or fight” reactions in response to potential harm or threat. These are natural instincts we all possess, but what happens when those cortisol levels never subside and you remain in a constant state of hyperarousal or acute stress response? The article likened it to playing football without a helmet! Imagine the damage one would sustain were they to consistently play this aggressive and combative sport without the proper defense and protective gear. Medical professionals first began exploring the damage the sport of boxing causes on the brain with what is now diagnosed as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), subsequently witnessing how this affects players in other sports, like football, the result of repeated trauma to the brain.
WINGS Charlotte was proud to announce its new regional advisory board earlier this month.
The welcoming of this dynamic board brings great promise and opportunities for the growth and expansion of WINGS in the Charlotte region. These professionals have over 100 years of combined experience in education, human resources, organizational management, real estate and transformational leadership that will give WINGS the necessary boost in the Queen City to reach over 400 more students in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District. This will reflect a 260% increase in our ability to enrich and fortify 375 additional students with SEL learning, who daily face immeasurable challenges, along their journey to not only achieve academic success and graduate from high school, but also equip them with the skills and resources necessary to succeed in life and explore the possibilities of post-secondary education. No, it's not impossible for them yet more probable if given the right tools to make good decisions, exercise laser sharp critical thinking and enjoy positive peer, family and teacher relationships.
College students are an integral part of the success of WINGS as they deliver daily the social and emotional content that makes a profound impact in the lives of elementary age students. With the mounting awareness of academic disparities in the Charlotte area it comes as no surprise that WINGS was on full display during UNC Charlotte’s annual Undergraduate Research Symposium on April 20, 2015. Students from Dr. Susan Harden’s CUYC 3600 Service-Learning course researched topics ranging from the importance of attracting and recruiting the best talent to work with and teach social and emotional skills to kids in lower-performing schools, to the impact that student organizations can have in raising much needed capital – human and financial – and building capacity to deepen and broaden the awareness of WINGS Charlotte. The modern day “Communiversity” relationship has blossomed into one where the Academy, community and non-profits co-labor as principal investigators to collectively solve problems together.
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