Wholistic Institutes graduates 50, teaches them life skills

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Communities for Tomorrow, with help from the Wholistic Stress Control Institute, hosted a graduation and luncheon Monday for nearly 50 students, who completed a 12-week program on handling stress in life and the workplace.

The graduation was held at Callaway Conference Center and was for students who participate in the work-based learning program at the Troup County School System.

The program was 12 weeks long and provided students with information on best practices for handling stressors in the workplace and in life.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton, Quay Boddie and Bre’Tasha Harris  gave speeches of encouragement to the students.  The students also had the opportunity to network with local employers such as Synovus, Milliken, and Hyundai Systems Seating. Teara Harris, CEO and founder of Communities for Tomorrow, worked with several businesses and organizations to organize the event, including LaGrange Development Authority, WorkSource Three Rivers, West Georgia Tech and Troup Transformation.

Jeff Little, the principal of Troup County Career Center, said the opportunity provided students with a unique opportunity to learn skills that are applicable in their daily life.

“This was a grant opportunity that came to us through Communities of Tomorrow, a community organization,” Little said. “[It] offers some of our kids an opportunity to learn how to handle stressful situations and anger in ways that have positive outcomes for them.”

The Wholistic Stress Control Institute is a nonprofit based in Atlanta that aims to teach life management skills to students in need. Executive Director Tarita Johnson and Associate Director KeLvin Walston worked with the students once a week through the semester and presented graduating certificates to the students on Monday.

Johnson said the most important thing for the institute is to make sure that the students who go through program receive the skills they need.

“As executive director, the most important thing is to make sure that whoever we’re serving received the core skills to be able to help themselves,” Johnson said.

Walston said he feels the institute was able to help students have a better grasp on their identity and their future.

“We’ve helped them understand who they are and if they have any type of triggers or traumas or challenges. [And] giving them a platform or resources where they can research and get additional help,” Walston said.

Johnson said she had a rewarding moment with a student before the graduation when the students were conducting their post-course tests.

“Today when they were taking their post test… One of the students said, ‘What’s that moment of thinking that you mentioned?’ It’s actually called a moment of clarity but the fact that even if he didn’t quite grasp moment of clarity, he remembered to stop [and] take a moment to think about [it],” Johnson said. “That was a great moment for me and the satisfaction in knowing that we have done what we set out to do.”

Boddie focused his speech on validating and encouraging the students, while Harris provided motivation and encouragement from her real life as a local business owner.

“I love how it went. I walked into the room. and I already felt a good energy about the students and the people that were involved in [the] event,” Boddie said. “Just to see them excited about something and to see them looking forward to getting a diploma [and] graduating made me feel good.”

Thornton invited students to speak on the impact of the program at the next city council meeting. He said this would allow the council to see the results of the project they had given $15,000 to help fund.

“Here’s my ask of you. I’m going to go back and tell the city council members what a great investment this has been, tell them that the program has been a success and tell them that we have seen many graduates of this program,” Thornton said.

“But I want you to come and tell them about it. I’m here today to join Teara and the others in celebrating your graduation, but also to ask for volunteers.”

Teara said she was inspired to start this program after seeing a need for it in the community. She hopes to expand it to help teach students financial literacy and other life skills.

“I started working in the community. I started to see that they need programs, but you’ve got to give them incentives to get [involved] with these programs,” Teara Harris said.

“It’s about giving people opportunity and giving them a little bit hope, and it works wonders.”