Adventures to Dreams Enrichment (AtDE) was founded in 2015 by “Ms. Sheila” Grantham, a former pre-school owner, and Director, early childhood educator, and mentor. While teaching at a Head Start pre-school located in the Imperial Courts housing projects in South Central Los Angeles, a student expressed that he and his siblings weren’t allowed to play outside on the weekends because of the dangers in their neighborhood. Ms. Sheila listened to his words and put a plan into action! Ms. Sheila is an innovative community leader with a strong passion for exposing youth to experiences that transcend their norms. She thought, “I must do something to expose these kids to a positive environment on the weekends!” Next, Adventures to Dreams developed, and Ms. Sheila primarily used her savings to fund it with the help of some food donations and few small donations along the way.
Adventures to Dreams Enrichment is an organization dedicated to providing hands-on education, mentorship, and inspiring youth to Dream BIG. AtDE serves youth, ages 4 – 13, who live in at-risk neighborhoods and teaches them about Gardening/Sustainability, STEM, Art, and Culinary skills. The youth involved in this unique program live between Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The program operates every 3rd Saturday, year-round, at South 40 Community Garden in Long Beach, CA. Adventures to Dreams goal is to engage youth by exposing them green spaces, recreational activities, safe play, tactile learning environments, and other external experiences that enrich their lives, inspire them to reach their potential, and become productive members of society. In 2017, Ms. Sheila became an honorary member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars (CSULB) for her commitment to the ideals of scholarship, leadership, and service to the community.
2018 – 2019
In December 2018, Ms. Sheila was faced with the decision of closing AtDE because the program had grown to 25 kids, and her savings were exhausted. In late January, she received a small grant from Whole Kids Foundation/Garden Grant program, and an anonymous donor, which she believes is enough to sustain the organization for a few months.
In its current location at South 40 garden, the program has outgrown its space, and there is an immediate need for expansion. So Ms. Sheila is Dreaming BIG, and has deployed a strategy to accommodate growing program needs. Her goal is to revitalize a local park in Long Beach, CA by developing a safe, functional green space for AtDE youth, and the surrounding community under the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones program. She envisions a space with multiple gardening plots, an outdoor kitchen, a play area, exercise area, restrooms, a storage area, and a small office. Space will allow AtDE to engage more youth, volunteers, and surrounding communities, and employ students from local colleges. With more food production, AtDE youth can continue to take it home, and host bi-weekly farmer’s markets to increase community access to healthy and affordable produce.
Ms. Sheila is a California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) alumna, and she has formed strong connections with several campus organizations who consistently volunteer their time with AtDE, proving time after time, that giving back is very important. She has also connected with some Long Beach Sustainability organizations like Long Beach Fresh which beliefs in improving access to locally-grown, seasonal and sustainably grown food in Long Beach. Additionally, Ms. Sheila is currently enrolled in the Long Beach Neighborhood Leadership Program, a five-month series which provides grassroots residents with the skills, knowledge and resources necessary to make a difference in the quality of life in the community; and she recently became a member of The Nonprofit Partnership, in order to build the capacity of AtDE, so it can continue to make positive change in the community. Read articles about events Ms. Sheila has attended: 1) A Visit to South LA’s Village Market Place Food Hub, 2) Should LB Schools go Farm-To-Table? Locals Find Innovation in San Diego Area.
Adventures to Dreams Enrichment is a vital resource for children, families, and the communities it serves.
Ms. Sheila wholeheartedly believes in positively shaping youth to be well rounded and prepared for their futures!
Busy hands = Busy Minds!