By Shelley Murphy
This time of year, one sentence is sure to send a shiver up some parents’ spines: Capistrano Unified students start their summer break in two weeks.
While kids are excited, some parents are scrambling for solutions to keep kids engaged this summer.
Cindi Juncal, a lifelong child advocate, recognizes that summer is a great time for students to learn life skills not taught in school.
Juncal founded The Noble Path Foundation (TNPF), a 501(c)(3), in 2013 and remains focused on helping the youth in our community reach their highest potential by promoting healthy lifestyle choices, safe social activities and motivational mentoring.
Next month, Juncal combines the power of mentorship and opportunity when she launches TNPF’s “AIM High for Summer” online fundraiser.
“Our online auction offers unique, one-of-a-kind experiences to young people trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up,” said Juncal.
The fundraiser is an opportunity for kids to interact with professionals working in industries they hope one day to join.
“Whether it’s being a doctor, video game programmer, or dog trainer, the best way to find out more about a career path is speaking to someone who has already made that journey and can describe both the joys and the pitfalls along the way,” said Juncal.
She added, “You can bid on an experience for your own child or gift an experience to an underserved or at-risk youth otherwise unable to participate.”
Juncal shared two of the mentor experiences included in the online auction.
Neil Alberico is a professional racecar driver and coach who believes in donating his time and resources to help others.
“Children are the future of this country. By supporting The Noble Path Foundation’s AIM High program, I know I’m providing an opportunity for kids to get ahead in life, ultimately making that future bright,” Alberico said.
Alberico is providing a private team experience with Firestone IndyNXT at Laguna Seca Raceway.
Orange County native Nik Needham is an NFL football player with the Miami Dolphins who recognizes the importance of giving back to his community.
The 26-year-old NFL cornerback said, “Putting kids on the right path by giving them the tools they need early in their lives can make all the difference in the world, and I’m happy to be a part of The Noble Path’s mission.”
Needham is offering a private “Madden NFL” gaming session and his thoughts on what it takes to make it to the NFL.
All proceeds from the online auction will fund the AIM High program; the next AIM High series kicks off on June 19. The seven-week leadership program stands for Advocacy, Inspiration and Mentorship.
Each week, AIM High pairs groups of teens with different leaders in the community to encourage inspirational conversations meant to motivate participants to achieve their goals.
Some of the mentors that TNPF partners with include the Wellness and Prevention Center, Laura’s House, San Clemente Rotary, and the Orange County Sheriff’s Department.
AIM High is also endorsed by mental health professionals, physicians, teachers, nutritionists, law enforcement, Capistrano Unified Board of Trustees and local civic leaders.
“Our program is helping armor teens with the tools needed to navigate the increasing dangerous waters of adolescence,” said Juncal.
In conjunction with AIM High’s presentations, participants are encouraged to attend social events during the week to foster peer relationships.
TNPF’s permanent home is a spacious historical building in Downtown San Clemente. There, TNPF provides a safe haven for youth and fun activities such as yoga, music lessons, meditation practice, and TGIF Friday events including karaoke, ping pong tournaments, gaming and movie nights.
“Everything we offer at TNPF is absolutely free—there’s nothing else out there like us,” said Juncal.
Summer is an opportune time for teens to pursue new interests and, perhaps, discover their passion or purpose.
“The goal is to help as many kids as we can,” said Juncal.
To learn more, visit thenoblepathfoundation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more than 20 years, Shelley Murphy and her husband have lived in San Clemente, where she raised her two sons. She’s a freelance writer and has been a contributor to Picket Fence Media since 2006.