Learning to Persevere in Providence

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Teaching important skills.

United Way of Rhode Island (UWRI) works hard to strengthen the community — educating children is an important part of that. Although traditional academics garner much of the public’s attention, UWRI supports local nonprofits dedicated to teaching social-emotional skills. UWRI’s Jennifer Chapman explains, “It’s important to teach these skills from a young age; intelligence alone is not enough to be successful.”

I spoke with Shannon Smith, an instructor with the Center for Resilience (CFR), during a recent visit to Providence’s William D’Abate Elementary School. Shannon uses the ResilientKids Curriculum to teach social-emotional skills, such as self-regulation, stress management, and perseverance, to students at the school.

On this day, Ms. Rodrigues’ third grade class learns about perseverance. Shannon tells the students, “Sometimes we can do things that may not seem possible, simply by believing we can — today we are going to practice that.” Pausing momentarily, she makes eye contact with each child before asking, “Even if it’s challenging, are we going to persevere?” The class answers with a resounding “Yes!”

CFR is a local nonprofit that works with students and educators to foster success through the practice of mindfulness. Earlier this year, CFR received funding from UWRI which helped further their curriculum, “Without United Way of Rhode Island, we wouldn’t be in a school like William D’Abate,” explains Shannon. “The school’s budget just couldn’t support a program that engages students twice a week for the entire school year,” she continues.

United Way of Rhode Island is proud to support an organization so dedicated to changing the lives of children in the Ocean State. Going forward, Shannon wants to continue helping children connect the social-emotional skills they learn in the classroom to the rest of their lives. CFR is successful because of the positive impact they have made on the community, but it’s the dedication shown by their instructors that make this nonprofit truly special.

By: Jason Boulay, Communication Coordinator, UWRI