Before and after the COVID-19 pandemic began earlier this year, Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana has been reimagining how they meet their mission to fit every child’s and adult’s unique needs. The nonprofit organization rolled out the new curriculum-based programs nationally on August 17th to empower kids to overcome obstacles in their everyday lives.
“Our vision is to give any kid in any setting, no matter where they are, a chance to empower their lives, overcome obstacles, and chase their dreams,” said Barbara Gederian Muckel, Executive Director of Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana.
The vision has culminated in a number of new programs aimed to enhance children’s and adults’ lives through engaging and fun programming. The first of these new programs is Spark—At Home. Designed for those at home or on-the-go, Spark is an exciting new opportunity from Dream Chasers that encourages people to learn and grow through four key elements.
“The first element is Core Power, which was developed to recognize the value of your core identity and purpose,” Gederian Muckel said. “The second is Overcome, an introduction to the challenges they’ll face and the tools they have to overcome them. The third is Win, which means to understand and work to recognize, develop, and use each tool to gain traction on your dreams. And lastly, number four is Chase, or developing daily habits to overcome and reach for your potential.”
“Through these four elements, we implement activities, challenges, and engaging dialogue throughout the curriculum,” she said.
Spark—At Home is a four-week at-home character curriculum. The program contains 20 lessons and is offered year round. Participants receive workbooks and video-based content filled with fun activities and character discussion. What’s so exciting about Spark—At Home and the other new programs is that they are not only for children. Adults looking to empower themselves are welcomed to register for the programs as well, something Gederian Muckel is passionate about.
“For me, being a Dream Chaser means that you are never too old to chase your dream. You’re never too old to have a vision or a goal,” she said. “We see that a lot, where adults want to make a change and get to a point where they can chase these dreams they’ve always had. It even happened with two of our board members, who had life-changing experiences with these programs and eventually started their own businesses.”
Spark—At Home is $60 for the four-week session. The program is designed for 1st and 2nd graders with adult support, 3rd to 5th graders, 6th to 8th graders, families, and mentors and mentees. To learn more about the program, you can visit the website at https://dreamchasers.org/spark/.
The second program is Dream Chasers’ student workbooks, which can be completed either inside the child’s school classroom or virtually, a great choice for instructors and parents debating how to approach the upcoming school year given the state of the world and education.
“It is easily incorporated into a daily agenda, whether kids are being taught in school, through e-learning, or they’re being homeschooled,” Gederian Muckel said. “This curriculum empowers students to approach each day, situations, and activity with intentional action to be the best version of themselves, all so they can overcome their challenges and strive to reach their potential.”
While the student workbooks will be important during the COVID-19 situation, they are designed to be an integral part of a student’s learning beyond the current obstacles in our world. Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana has made it part of its mission to see their curriculum go far beyond what a community’s needs are at the moment. It’s looking to the future of education and a community’s needs to overcome whatever may come up.
“It’s really more about character building for life, not solely about school,” she said. “This program was designed to create self-worth, a sense of confidence, intentional action, and traction for students to reach for their greatness.”
The student workbook program is an 8-week, 40-day program that includes one daily lesson and can be done in-person or virtually. Each lesson is 10-15 minutes and allows students to start their day with personal development. This program is meant for 3rd grade to 8th grade students, whole classrooms and grade-levels, homeschooling, and small groups, such as with a school counselor. It can transition from in-person to virtual, and vice versa. For more information about the student workbook program, please visit their website at https://dreamchasers.org/classroom/.
Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana will continue its after-school enrichment programs, noting they will be available for schools to participate amidst COVID-19. The six-week after-school program offers 12 sessions, two a week, and last one hour each.
“We will always have the enrichment programs available,” Gederian Muckel said. “We have a completely new curriculum this upcoming fall—something we do every season.”
The enrichment programs consist of activities focusing on speed, agility, strength, balance, and more. Aligning with the other programs, the after-school program is meant to teach kids how to be themselves, overcome obstacles, and keep chasing their dreams.
At the end of each enrichment program season, Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana would host a giant obstacle course where all participants involved in the program would showcase what they learned and how they can apply everything to the obstacle course and their everyday lives. Due to COVID-19, Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana had to put a hold on their planned obstacle courses, but are excited to bring a special obstacle course in 2021 that will be community-focused.
“Anyone can register with a group, whether it’s a family, a group of friends, colleagues, whoever. It’s going to be a community-wide, community-involved event,” Gederian Muckel said.
For more information about the enrichment program and obstacle course, please visit their website at https://dreamchasers.org/enrichment/.
Dream Chasers Camp will continue next year as well. These one-week camps for 1st to 5th grade and 6th through 8th grade students are designed to engage participants in powerful character development exercises and discussions each day.
“Within the camp curriculum, the Dream Chasers attending will, at the end of the week, build out their own obstacles for the obstacle course race,” Gederian Muckel said. “That’s part of our teamwork and leaderships skills built into our character-building curriculum, but with a hands-on approach.”
For more information about Dream Chasers Camp, visit the website at https://dreamchasers.org/summercamp/.
In addition, Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana is excited to begin team-building workshops for businesses, school districts, and more.
“These workshops are for anyone looking to create a fun culture of team-building within their business or their school or whatever they’re doing. We are going to be able to do that in-person or virtually,” Gederian Muckel said. “Anyone and everybody are welcome to partake in these workshops.”
All of Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana’s programs are designed to help anyone become a better version of themselves. As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations like Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana are looking to be a pillar of support for a community it loves.
“Amidst COVID-19 and the state of our world, we have never wavered in holding to our mission,” Gederian Muckel said. “We have served from the heart with excellence. Our programs have been reinvented in how we are delivering our mission, but our actual mission and our vision have not changed. That is our foundation, and we will continue building on that.”
For more information about Dream Chasers Northwest Indiana, please visit their website at https://dreamchasers.org/nwi.