off the beaten track

FreeFlight

As parents we all want our children to have a bright future! Wouldn’t it be amazing to help our young ones discover their interests, maybe even find their passion, pick up some skills and carve out their own brilliant path by experimenting and learning through novel experiences?

We will work together to redefine SUCCESS and EMPOWER our children.

FreeFlight Signup

@lizandmollie

What?

FreeFlight is a multi-year self-discovery program for middle and high school-aged children coming together as a parent-child affinity group.

FreeFlight members meet at regular intervals to learn and practice a variety of skills, in a fun, safe and nurturing environment.

Children identify their aptitude, strengths and weaknesses, and grow as they learn. Parents and children jointly explore a broad perspective of what “success” means, and discover pathways for the children to develop into multi-dimensional, engaged, happy adults.

Why?

Our children today are molded (or expected) to fit into the narrow confines of what constitutes “doing well” in our driven, success-oriented society, where intellectual or financial accomplishments are the metrics used to measure success.

Parents who want to celebrate their child for who he or she is, and help them identify and nurture their capabilities to become the best person they can be, are often hampered by a lack of knowledge of alternative paths, resources to help their children, and a support system for the entire family.

There are children who feel overwhelmed by the need to conform and play by the “rules”, and lack role models who can show them alternate ways to navigate and experience pride in the transition to adulthood. At FreeFlight we believe that each child is a superhero in his/her own right. Children have an innate sense of self, which if nurtured with a growth mindset can go beyond the peer pressure they face and blossom in the supportive, nonjudgmental community FreeFlight will foster.

Who?

FreeFlight will initially consist of a small cohort of parents (at least one parent needs to enroll) and their middle or high school aged children. It is vital that parents engage in the club’s programs. Role models begin at home.

We welcome all children, including those who have physical, learning or emotional challenges, who are neuro-diverse, who find it hard to cope in mainstream educational environments, and those growing up in cultures with rigid expectations.

Goals

At FreeFlight children learn to tap into and identify interests, and experience the joy that comes with exploring those interests. FreeFlight helps children build self esteem, stay curious, and engaged as they transition through adolescence and eventually launch into adulthood.

Parents share and support one another, in building a nurturing and nourishing environment and a kindred, community spirit. The ultimate goal is to prepare children to move from dependence to interdependence to independence with confidence.

FreeFlight makes a conscious effort to cultivate not just the logic of the mind, but also the desires of the heart, while teaching children the importance of a financially viable future. This sense of balance and satisfaction of building upon their interests helps children be SUCCESSFUL.

Specifics

A mindfully-crafted, multi-year approach with a structured curriculum of activities (including community building) and talks, addressing soft skills, life skills, and awareness of alternative careers and academic paths, to help a child transition from dependence (childhood) to interdependence (adolescence) to independence (adulthood). The curriculum has a parent track that combines joint activities for parent and child, as well as talks and tools for parents to support their child’s journey to adulthood.

The monthly 90-minute gathering focuses on one or more of the topics in the following three categories – Soft Skills, Life Skills, and Career Paths. Workshops are held on the 2nd Saturday of every month. 

Soft Skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Resilience
  • Accepting/embracing differences
  • Asking for help
  • Self advocacy
  • Negotiation
  • Team work
  • Dealing with failure
  • Empathy – helping those less fortunate, mentoring younger children
  • Executive functioning
  • Emotional self-regulation
  • Handling peer pressure
Life Skills
  • Mindfulness practice
  • Cooking Basics
  • Financial Preparedness – Balancing, Budgeting
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Who Am I – writing exercise
  • Safety
  • Time Management
  • Fitness
  • Knowledge of community resources
  • Wellness (emotional, social, physical)
  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Housing Basics
Careers Paths
  • What is a “successful life”?
  • Identify interests, passions, strengths and challenges
  • Unusual careers
  • Role models in diverse careers
  • Gap year options
  • Exposure to careers via summer internships
  • Vocational training and colleges that provide support
  • Mentoring
  • Resume Workshop
  • Job seeking skills

What makes FreeFlight unique?

A group of parents with children of different ages, and teen wellness professionals, met to discuss the challenges experienced in raising our children and the resources that would have helped us in the journey. The common thread is the fervent need for opportunities to forge pathways for a child’s transition to adulthood that may be off the beaten track.

There was also an agreement that parents need as much, if not more, help in broadening perspectives and approaches to engage with their children to support them in opportunities to develop and succeed across multiple dimensions, not just the academic.

So the motivation for forming this group is to create a community of parents and children who learn and grow together, connected by the desire to explore and embrace non-traditional definitions and pathways to success in a supportive, nonjudgmental environment.

FreeFlight Steering Committee

(In Alphabetical Order)

  • Anusuya Rao
  • Gita Gopal
  • Jayashree Subrahmonia
  • Leena Khanzode
  • Padmini Ranganathan
  • Priya Dharan
  • Ranga Ranganathan
  • Shoba Iyer

Partners


FAQ

About

What is FreeFlight Club?
Freeflight is a multi-year self-discovery program that explores what “success” means, provides a safe space and opportunity to learn “adulting” skills, and empowers teens to discover their interests and grow into confident, independent adults.
Who can join?
Freeflight curriculum is for middle schoolers and one of their parents or guardians. The club is also open to high schoolers and parents looking to grow skills required to launch into adulthood. Our young members are called Flighters and parents Propellers 🙂
Do parents(legal guardians) have to participate?
Yes, Freeflight is a parent(legal guardian) and child club. Success involves not just empowering teens – it also requires parents to broaden their perspectives and approaches, to engage with their children and support them in their development across multiple dimensions, including but not limited to just the academic.
Where does the club meet?
The club meets in either a park, indoor community space or in the homes/backyards of FreeFlight members. Some sessions may be online.
How often do members meet?
The annual program has 10 sessions every year. The club meets once a month, on a Saturday from 3-4.30. The day and time is subject to change.
How long is a session?
Each session is 90 min. Allow some extra time to grab some food and drinks after each session.
What happens during these sessions?
Sessions have a specific format. Within this format Flighters will learn different skills such as Communication, Financial Literacy, Well Being, Personal Safety and Propellers will learn how to support their child through this process. Members will also learn a variety of tools to practice mindfulness.They will also have access to inspirational, unique Role Models that have pursued a talent or have successful life that is different from the mainstream. Lastly, and most important our young members, Flighters can also choose topics they want to cover during these sessions.
Who moderates these sessions?
The Flighter’s session is moderated by trained, energetic and enthusiastic upperclassmen from highschool, college or by young adults. The Propellers’ sessions are led by a trained parent volunteer.
Do kids and parents have sessions together in the same area/room?
The kids and parents will generally be in separate areas/rooms, but the format and topics covered will be the same. The kids’ sessions will be moderated by a youth moderator and the parents by an adult moderator.
Do kids and parents have sessions in the same location, day and time?
Yes, the sessions will be in the same location, day and time. But they will generally be in separate areas/rooms.
What does multi-year mean?
The topics covered in the Freeflight curriculum include life skills, soft skills and introductions to different paths to success. Each year, the club will cover all these topics but will continue to build on the concepts covered in the previous year to expand and deepen the level of understanding.
Can our family just sign up for one annual program?
FreeFlight is a multi-year program starting from 7th grade and potentially lasting till 12th grade. Each year builds on and deepens understanding of topics covered previously, and introduces new topics. We encourage families to participate through the multi-year program to reap the full benefits from it.

Cost

How much does it cost?
$400 for one year (10 sessions) for 1 child and his/her parent(s).
I have two children who would like to join. What is the cost?
The second child would cost an additional $200.
What is the cost if both parents want to join?
The cost is the same for one or both parent members.
Can I get a refund if I miss a session?
No. The freeflight cost is for the entire year. Freeflight will send out a session recap after every session. If you miss a session, you can review the session recap to get an overview of what was covered.
Will FreeFlight refund members if they cancel a session?
No. If FreeFlight cancels a session, we will reschedule it for another time or replace the session in other ways.
Can we join mid-way? How much will I be charged?
We encourage people to join at the beginning of the year in August. However if you hear about the program midway and would like to join, you are most welcome! Your annual membership fee will be prorated.
Is the annual membership fee tax deductible?
No, the annual membership fee is not tax deductible.
What is the refund policy?
If a family chooses to end their membership mid way, FreeFlight will not refund the membership fee, barring certain exceptional circumstances such as moving out of state, major illness, loss of employment etc.
Do you offer scholarships?
Yes, we offer need based scholarships. Scholarships are sponsored by our community partner- Taarika Foundation. Please contact freeflight@afutureforeverychild.org for more information.

Membership Requirements

What are FreeFlight's attendance requirements?
Dates are published well in advance. Kids and parents are encouraged to attend ALL or at least 9 out of 10 FreeFlights sessions. However, if you are unable to make a session, a session recap will be made available.
My child is not interested, can parents still join the program?
No. FreeFlight is designed around both kids and parents as active participants.
My child is interested but parents cannot commit, can he/she still join the program?
No. FreeFlight is designed around both kids and parents as active participants.
Can my child’s friend’s parents act as my child's guardian during a session?
No, not unless the guardian is the child’s legal guardian. FreeFlight is designed for kids and parents to work together on building skills for success.
On occasion can the child only or a parent only attend a session?
FreeFlight is a child and parent participation club. But if on occasion one of the members is unable to attend we understand. We do request that they get a session update from their family member. We also recommend that you do not miss more than one session, in order to get maximum benefit from the program.
What is FreeFlight’s policy on bullying?
We have a zero tolerance policy on bullying.
What is FreeFlight’s process for behavioral and/or disruptive issues from its young members?
Behavioral and/or disruptive issues will be handled immediately and appropriately.

Miscellaneous

Will FreeFlight help my child find summer jobs and/or internships, get career and/or college counselling, or log community service hours?
No. FreeFlight is not designed to provide any of these services. However, over time we hope to build our resource page with leads & recommendations in these areas.
Will FreeFlight help my child find a therapist?
No. FreeFlight is not equipped to find a therapist for your child. However, over time we hope to build our resource page to include leads to recommended therapists.
Can a student member become a Youth Moderator?
Yes. We encourage our 11th and 12th grade members to become Youth Moderators as this gives them an excellent leadership opportunity. They will need at least 1 year experience with the FreeFlight program. They will serve as volunteer assistants for at least 1 meeting and go through a brief training session with a FreeFlight member. Please contact us.
What do experts say about FreeFlight?
FreeFlight club helps to raise the “whole child” by equipping the teens with necessary soft skills and life skills that are needed to launch successfully into adulthood. Taarika Foundation is proud to support this club because it resonates with our philosophy of supporting the Whole Child. – Leena Khanzode, Psychiatrist

COVID

What is FreeFlight’s COVID protocol?
FreeFlights follows the county guidelines for COVID protocols. The protocol details will be shared at each session.
What happens if a member/moderator/volunteer gets COVID?
We will follow all county guidelines. We will inform everyone who was in contact and encourage everyone to quarantine. Sessions will either be cancelled or transition to zoom if possible. We will resume once it is absolutely safe for everyone to attend in person.
Will in person switch to zoom if the county rules change?
Yes, we will switch to online sessions if the county guidelines change.

FreeFlight Signup

FreeFlight Club

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Next meeting on Saturday Dec 11th

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