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Inspiring Minds hosts learning trip

YOUNGSTOWN — A group of youth from Warren and Youngstown spent time this summer in El Salvador learning of the culture as part of an Inspiring Minds sponsored learning trip.

Several of the youth who traveled shared their experiences at a recent fundraiser gala for Inspiring Minds held at Stambaugh Auditorium.

Jasmine Macklin, a senior in Youngstown, said the trip was “a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn of the culture of another country.

“We developed relationships with those we met. The trip allowed for sharing of experiences and learning from others. We explored areas of El Salvador that were not glamorous,” Macklin said.

She said they learned about the people of the country, including a group of women who started their own business of handmade jewelry.

“I developed a better appreciation of what I have in my own life. This trip and the people I saw and met changed my life,” Macklin said.

Macklin said she spent time with children and their families.

“It challenged me to be the best in my own life,” she said.

Nadia Simons, an eighth-grader in Youngstown, said, “This was an opportunity I shall never take for granted. I remember when we landed in the plane and saw the people. The people I met had a strong faith.”

Deryck Toles, founder of Inspiring Minds, said the 24 students who went on the trip gained an appreciation of what they have and seeing what others face each day. Toles said Inspiring Minds is designed to engage, inspire and empower youth for the future.

The gala showcased the varied accomplishments of the students involved in Inspiring Minds-sponsored learning activities. Plans for next year are to expand the program in Youngstown schools.

Toles said the gala kicked off another year of after school programming.

“One of our high school highlights from out first week back was a weekend exposure trip to Duke University,” he said.

Stephanie Gilchrist, executive director of Youngstown Inspiring Minds, said the gala recognized the varied accomplishments of students.

“We are a big family supporting one another,” she said.

Gilchrist said after she saw the Inspiring Minds program in Warren, she wanted to have a program in Youngstown.

“The children we serve are like diamonds on a table that may be rough but we have a group of people who provide them the support they need,” she said

Donations of $2,500 can help sponsor a student for a year, $1,500 sponsor for student tutoring for a year, $500 for an exposure field trip, and $200 for enrichment activities.

Since 2006, Inspiring Minds has been serving the youth of the Mahoning Valley showing them anything is possible with support and determination.

In 2015, Inspiring Minds extended its program with a chapter in Youngstown.

bcoupland@trbtoday.com

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