What used to be a school-held program became a parent-volunteer compilation with the key components, the children themselves.
Destination ImagiNation is a non profit that provides a learning and exploration program for kids ages Kindergarten all the way up to university level. The program has given children the ability to have fun and create things they normally would not have time to do with their busy schedule in school and home while still keeping them fascinated in the learning process.
Team Leaders Rupal Ravi-Chandar and Coleen Ito-Azuma have been a part of this growing phenom and have spent hundreds of hours outside of school to continue guiding their team to the Global Competition the past three years. Their team members include, David Azuma, Amritha Ramalingam, Trent Pozzi, Purvaj Kandula, Grace Hedges, Kelly Li, and Divya Vilekar.
"Rupal and I have been with our kids since Kindergarten," Coleen says. "In September, that's when the challenges come out. There's a technical one, a scientific one, a performing arts one, improv, structure challenge as well as project outreach.
The group decided to call themselves this year "The Other Team," a sort of funny prank pulled by team member David that became a fitting team name.
The kids who all go to , have grown to learn about each other and look at themselves all as extended family.
"We play by our strengths. Not one of us is better than the other," says Amritha.
"We have kids on our team who like to act but we also have kids that like to build so this year we did the performing arts challenge," says Coleen.
The team leaders are the ones providing the materials and a place to work. The kids are the ones doing the brainstorming, challenges and activities.
This year's challenge that won 1st in their category was far from easy.
"We had to create a movie trailer including two nations interacting with each other. There had to be an original song playing throughout the (performance) trailer with cinematic, special effects, and movie trailer components," Amritha explains.
For 9 months, the kids met up at Coleen's house to brainstorm and build their props for the competitions.
For some, being a part of DI (Destination Imagination) is an outlet outside of school. Trent, who's a great builder loves being able to make things and appreciates the time away.
"Sometimes people tease you at school. If they knew some of the things I do in DI, maybe they wouldn't tease as much."
This program really proves how mentors and parents like Coleen and Rupal make a huge difference in these kids' lives in and away from school and you can see the bond all they all share when they are together.
"We are so grateful for Ms. Coleen and Ms. Rupal for all they do. It's a fun experience. You get to think outside the box and do things you wouldn't normally do in school," says Purvaj as he chuckles and the rest of the team laughs in agreement.