Lessons to Last a Lifetime
Jersey City Resident Instills Empowering Traits Along With ABCs
The AlphaKey Club
Diggs began developing her alphabet in 2015 and officially unveiled it a year later, with the AlphaKey Alphabet Activity Coloring Book. She designed a mascot, Alphee, a stuffed elephant who stars with his human friend, Leo, in a book about days of the week. (There are more books to come.) She also expanded the principles behind the AlphaKey Alphabet and created the AlphaKey Club, a holistic educational program that she began teaching in interactive workshops.
She took the AlphaKey program into schools and libraries, community organizations like the YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs, and retailers such as Barnes & Noble. She took it to a school in Dominican Republic. She also adapted it for teens and adults, including 18-to-20-year-olds in Miami who were aging out of foster care, and corporate employees who were mentoring as part of their professional development.
“I can cater it to the group, but it’s still about the foundation of our language, how we communicate, and having the social and emotional skills to interact, to go after our goals, to be consistent, to not give up,” Diggs says.
Still, her primary focus was on young children. She went back to school to get her master’s in special education, and started working on a YouTube series focused on Alphee and AlphaKey. The ultimate goal was to go digital, so she could reach children throughout the United States and even in other countries.
Covid-19 fast-tracked that plan.
A Tool for Families
With schools closing practically overnight last spring, and the pandemic threatening the new school year, Diggs responded by adapting the AlphaKey Club to a series of weekly virtual workshops for families. Now available on the Airbnb platform, each hour-long workshop focuses on a new letter and its corresponding concept, incorporating reading, discussion, movement, music and art.
The art component doesn’t just keep kids engaged, Diggs says; it also leaves them with tangible reinforcement of the concept they discussed. During the “A” workshop, for example, each child makes an “achievement quilt” composed of patches representing their past accomplishments and future goals. The quilt serves as a visual reminder of what they want in life and what they’re capable of, and it prompts them to continue the discussion at home, with their parents and friends.
In fact Diggs encourages parents to participate in the virtual program too, so they can model, reinforce and keep talking about the qualities taught in the workshops. But she acknowledges that isn’t always possible.
“That’s not to throw shade on anybody,” she says. “I’m not a parent. I just got a puppy, and that’s really hard on me right now. Being a teacher, I totally understand that you just have to do the best you can with the tools you have.”
If the pandemic has
proven anything, it’s how much parents want to give their kids a good
education, and to keep their kids safe in a difficult world. AlphaKey Club is a
tool to help them do both.
Learn More about AlphaKey Club
Facebook: AlphaKey Club
YouTube: Alphee Adventures
60-minute Airbnb class: $10
30-to-40-minute virtual private tutoring session: $25