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When you feel safe you learn: a secret weapon for children. By JC Montenegro, PhD

Imagine a place where every child feels at home, surrounded by caring mentors and supportive friends. A place where safety isn't just a priority but a foundation for learning and growth. At the Salesian Family Youth Center, we believe that creating a secure and nurturing environment is the secret weapon to unlocking children's full potential. Join us in exploring how safety paves the way for academic achievement, personal development, and lifelong success. Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting Jason Ngo, an entrepreneur passionate about helping children. Jason spent two days with us, immersing himself in our community and experiencing firsthand the positive impact we strive to make on the lives of our youth. His reflections provide a heartfelt testament to our work and the family-like atmosphere we cultivate.

Jason began his visit enthusiastically, eager to see our programs in action. Jason left with a profound appreciation for the center's mission and the strong bonds between our staff and the children. "Reflecting back to last week, I learned that the center is really the kids' second home, and the counselors are like family to them," Jason wrote. This sense of belonging is a cornerstone of our philosophy, ensuring every child feels safe, valued, and supported - which is the prime ingredient to start learning. 

One of Jason's most striking observations was the sense of structure and community within the center. Every aspect of the day, from scheduled activities to established rules, is designed to create a nurturing environment. He recounted a moment when one student tripped during a kickball game, and two staff immediately sprang to help. This incident highlighted the deep sense of care and responsibility, underscoring the values we instill daily.

Jason also noted the children's openness and curiosity. "Every kid I approached did not shy away from communication," he said. I felt welcomed into their space where I could be a part of learning." We pride ourselves on this welcoming nature, as it fosters an inclusive and engaging atmosphere where children feel comfortable expressing themselves and forming meaningful connections with adults.

Lunch at the center is more than just a meal; it's an opportunity for teaching moments and building relationships. Jason shared his experience of sitting with children, getting to know them, and observing their respect and teamwork. He was particularly impressed by how naturally the children helped each other, even during cleanup. "When I saw Cesar grab the broom and sweep his salad from the floor into the dustpan that Jayden was holding, I knew it was second nature to help each other get the job done."

Homework hour provided Jason with a chance to connect on an academic level. Helping children with their multiplication, he experienced the joy of seeing them grasp new concepts. "There is no other feeling when you show a kid how to problem solve, and you see in their face when they understand how to do it," he reflected. This moment encapsulates the essence of our educational support programs, where learning becomes a shared and rewarding journey.

One of the highlights of Jason's visit was playing basketball with the kids. "I think I earned their respect on the court because I was making a lot of shots from far away," he recounted with a smile. This interaction exemplifies sports's powerful role in building confidence, teamwork, and mutual respect. Jason's passion for using sports to teach life skills aligns perfectly with our commitment to holistic child development.

Jason's visit to the Salesian Family Youth Center left a lasting impression on him, and his reflections beautifully capture the essence of our work. His observations affirm the importance of providing a structured, supportive, loving environment where children can thrive. As Jason eloquently said, "There is so much a kid can learn through playing sports to become healthy, positive, and productive adults."

We sincerely thank Jason for sharing his experiences and commitment to helping children. His insights highlight the impact of our programs and inspire us to continue our mission with renewed vigor. To our donors, supporters, and community members, thank you for being part of this journey. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of our youth, preparing them for a brighter future.

For more information on how you can support the Salesian Family Youth Center and be a part of our mission, please visit our website or contact us directly. Your contributions help us create more stories like Jason's, where every child can find a second home and a caring family.

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