YES STEAM Workshop
By Eliz Coleman Dowdy, Staff Writer
When Afarah Board retired from thirty years at Southern California Edison three years ago, she simply changed hats and shoes.
She has taught Leadership and Business at Cal Baptist University, and started two small businesses, one a consulting firm and the other a nonprofit youth-development organization known by the acronym YES, standing for Youth Essential Skills. The organization partnered with the Akoma Unity Center and the National College Resources Foundation over the weekend to host a YES STEAM workshop at Anne Shirrells Community Center in San Bernardino.
The purpose was introducing the components of STEAM, the careers that are rooted in those fields, and the preparation required to enter college. When I arrived, one group was in the field engaged in a balloon exercise, where they lined up and a fully inflated balloon was held between their bodies; another group was in the mobile unit, and another in the center where workshops were being taught. The YES organization engages youth from the ages of eight to twenty-two and it specializes in four modules of building skills: social, education, health, and leadership. These necessary skills are beneficial in the workplace, community, and the post-secondary classroom. In the Center, speakers engaged the youth in interactive conversation about college preferences, programs that prepare students for college, and the costs of attending universities.
According to Mrs. Board, approximately sixty youth ranging in age from 7 to 18, were introduced to and had hands-on experience with coding, circuitry, 3-D printing and other electrical and electronics within the STEAM mobile. The mobile was provided by National College Resources Foundation’s traveling mobile that seeks to engage youth from underserved communities. One of their goals is the introduction of more students, especially African Americans and women to STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Aviation, Aerospace, and Math, according to Dr. Theresa Price, founder of National College Resources Foundation. They have a larger mobile unit traveling in the Lynwood School District. In the words of Dr. Price, the desire of the National College Resource Foundation is to meet students where they are, and provide support and the resources to help them win. Those students going through the mobile unit Saturday in San Bernardino were excited and definitely hands-on. It is estimated that by the year 2020 there will be 65 million jobs available in the STEAM fields.
The Precinct Reporter also spoke with the executive director of the Akoma Unity Center, the transition from United Nations of Consciousness. She described the plans and directions for the Akoma Unity Center. They also want to reach out to parents because change within the children will not be complete unless parents are on board and understand the need to educate. She is planning trips outside their immediate area to Segerstrom Center in Costa Mesa to attend the Alvin Ailey Dance Revue in 2018, and Dodger Stadium both on the bucket list of venues to expand the consciousness of youth from the Westside. Kimberly Calvin, executive director, was born and raised on the Westside. She had relatives who have contributed to the community and the return is like coming home she stated. She has four children and four grandchildren.
Afarah Board has proven there is life after retirement, and along with her husband, is pouring life into the youth that are part of the YES program. She was co-founder of the SCE Black History month celebration that grew dramatically during her tenure. She has served on many local and national boards, earned both a Bachelor of Arts degree in business and MBA from the University of Redlands. She has completed management training at Harvard and Pepperdine universities. She has poured that experience and knowledge into developing underserved youth on the Westside of San Bernardino through the YES program.