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GDS empowers at-risk teens to make unprecedented life transformations by providing them with the inspiration and means to discover and sustain purpose, pride, and hope in themselves, their families, and their community.
Growth and Development Services (GDS) and The Excel Program
Since 1996, Growth and Development Services (GDS) and The Excel Program have built resilience by empowering teens, adults, families, and elders to Reach their Potential. This Fall GDS’s flagship program, Excel, is partnering with local schools, community-based organizations, and senior centers, offering a unique set of youth development, mental health, and intergenerational programs. Excel provides individuals with motivation, confidence, and skills, as well as opportunities to learn, work, and grow. Youth participants receive mentorship, arts, counseling, college/job readiness, and wellness programs, as well as receive training in youth advocacy and public speaking.
Our newest initiative Excel Alive Inside was inspired by my experience seeing the healing power of music for elders with dementia and the award-winning film Alive Inside by Michael Rossato-Bennett. Again, this summer we collaborated with Riverstone Memory Center and Inwood Community Services (ICS) and created a magical intergenerational program. We enhanced the model adding extensive training as an Intergenerational Wellness Facilitators (IWF's), increasing the number of elders with dementia we serve while adding a bilingual component to expand to Spanish-speaking elders with dementia. GDS is currently partnering with Inwood Community Services after-school programs and basing Excel out of the Harold O Levy School (I.S. 52) in Upper Manhattan.