Written by Jessica Vander Velde
Kristen Brown is nostalgic for the old-school rec room, the days when schools provided more time for art, when children weren’t glued to screens. She has a 9-year-old son and wants him and other children to enjoy extracurricular activities like martial arts, yoga, cooking classes and more.
The problem? So many of these classes require months-long commitment — and they can be cost prohibitive. So Brown, or “Kiki” as area kids refer to her, created a solution: TRIBE Seminole Heights, the neighborhood’s new non-profit that offers a slew of fun after-school activities for only $5 a pop.
That’s $5 for school-age children to learn how to code, paint a mural or make pasta. That’s $5 to take guitar lessons or join in cool science experiments.
“We’re pay-as you go,” Kiki said. “It’s easy.”
TRIBE Seminole Heights is located on the third floor of Seminole Heights United Methodist Church at 6111 N Central Ave., though it is not religious. Instead, the focus is to get kids active, have fun and learn in creative ways.
“We have a baking class but it’s more than decorating cookies,” Kiki said. “They’re learning how to measure both dry and wet ingredients, using spoons and cups. We have a whole class on eggs: separating them, scrambling them — teaching the kids tangible skills to use in their homes.”
There is no commitment or hidden fees. Students can stick with favorite classes or jump around, choosing a different class each night they visit TRIBE. And don’t think that TRIBE is just for kids; they offer a weekly adult meditation class, a family fitness class, and many opportunities for grownups to take a workshop when their schedule will allow.
For Kiki, who lives in Seminole Heights, the center is all about the community. She seeks to meet the needs of the families who come through its doors, even when that need is greater than a lesson on coding or an evening music class. That’s where the Community Closet comes in.
Donations of children’s clothing and shoes are accepted into the Community Closet at TRIBE, allowing the organization to give the clothing out to families in need. “Being able to help people when they’re going through a difficult time has been really powerful,” said Kiki. “The closet has been where some of the most meaningful moments have happened, and where I think we have had an opportunity to make a significant impact already.”
TRIBE is volunteer-run, and thanks to the volunteers’ wide range of skills, children can take art, music or cooking classes or get physical with classes in cheerleading, martial arts, fitness and yoga, to help burn off energy before homework and bed. Most classes are for ages 5 and up but there are offerings for preschool-age children and older children/teens as well.
Kiki says a lot of love goes into each session and the joy on the students’ faces echoes that feeling. They truly enjoy the interactions with their new friends, as well as the accomplishments of learning something new or making a new handcrafted item, she says.
TRIBE’s schedule is online at tribeseminoleheights.com or the group’s Facebook page. To find Tribe, enter the church (located at the corner of Hanna and Central avenues) from the Hanna Avenue side, going up the stairs and through the double doors. Once inside, there is one more flight of stairs.
If you have a skill you’d like to share in a series of classes, contact Kiki at firstname.lastname@example.org.