The Institute will include spaces and/or include collaborations such that learners of all ages can be seen by health and education practitioners- e.g. medical doctor, psychologist, optometrist, educational consultant- on an individual basis and can engage in activities designed to overcome barriers to learning and functioning.
In addition, we would like to be able to use space in the building for professional development sessions for educators working with learners at various levels.
The space is envisioned as being flexible and multipurpose, providing a number of opportunities for personal growth and inter-generational community, for example, youth empowerment and entrepreneurial projects, various events, and active involvement of senior citizens who will be invited to share their time and talents with younger participants (Golden Treasures project).
A major focus of the STAR Institute in the future will be a youth development center which eventually will be expanded to include learners of all ages. Child care will be provided for young children during the day as well as for school age children before and after school. A program for adolescents will also be developed to provide guidance and support for healthful development as well as opportunities to engage in entrepreneurial projects while gaining academic, interpersonal, job and other life skills.
We anticipate that there will be four full-time equivalent positions initially, increasing to at least ten employees when the Center is fully operational. In addition, consultants will be employed and high school and college students will receive the opportunity to engage in community service and research activities while gaining valuable experience working with children. Therefore, the Center will contribute to the local economy as well as prepare students for future careers.
The Center is envisioned as a welcoming, nurturing facility that incorporates light, “green” technology, and natural materials to create a model of an aesthetically pleasing, energy-efficient, and health-promoting environment. A variety of structures and materials will be available to appeal to the senses and invite participants to engage in activities that support their development, e.g. movement, science and arts exploration, and gardening.
The youth development center, which will be known as The STARCHILD Center will, however, be more than a licensed childcare facility, as suggested by its name which is an acronym for Service, Teaching, Advocacy, and Research Center for Human Integration, Learning, and Development. In addition to supporting the healthful development of the people who participate in Center activities, the facility will provide the opportunity to advance our knowledge and skills in the area of human development by observing and documenting the results of various approaches, particularly in the field of bio-integration, intended to optimize the functioning of participants. For example, the study of primitive reflexes (early sequence of reflexes controlled by the brain stem) suggests that when these reflexes are not inhibited at the proper time, a myriad of problems can occur, including learning and behavioral difficulties. Although practitioners report successful outcomes when the learner engages in certain exercises, in the United States this field is relatively new and needs to be systematically studied.