In times of crisis, innovation is frequently a key to overcoming obstacles.

In times of financial difficulty it is difficult to think about needs other than our own. But the danger of this “survival-of-the-fittest” mentality is that children are often the casualties—such as in California’s current Education budget crisis.

With ongoing rampant budget cuts schools are being forced to cut traditional programs and classes that are now deemed by the legislature as unnecessary for scholarly achievement.

Despite a down economy and financial turmoil, Piedmont High School has established an innovative program that will allow students to participate in both artistic and athletic programs that not only benefit themselves, but also other students in the community.

Piedmont High School’s Academy of Interdisciplinary Studies and Community Engagement (AISCE) is a pilot program that enables high school students to make a difference in their community through environmental projects and an inclusive soccer program (E-soccer). E-soccer was founded by Russ Ewell, a Jefferson award recipient. It is an innovative sports program where families with both typical and special needs children can go to reach their full athletic and social potential in a fully inclusive environment.

“We are using art and community projects to bridge the socio-economic divide,” explained Piedmont High teacher Ken Brown, pioneer of the AISCE program.

There is great value in doing community service and outreach programs for the youth. We cannot underestimate the value of helping others through community service. It is vital for our youth today to be aware and be encouraged to think beyond themselves. In order to do this, it is important that they are encouraged and feel empowered that they can make a difference.

Small changes make big changes. Big changes change lives. When one life is changed, that life can change the world.

Read the article “Piedmont High Launches Summer Service Academy” by Julia Gilden of the Piedmont Patch to get more details about the AISCE program.

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