Sapphire Hall strives to be a leader in her community as a committed student and passionate volunteer. Founder of Creative Flow, a nonprofit that provides free educational materials to students of all ages, she is dedicated to making sure everyone gets the education they deserve.
Currently a rising senior at Plantation High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Sapphire works diligently in the classroom as a member of her school’s International Baccalaureate (IB) program. She also stays involved in volunteerism by tutoring younger students through Freedom Readers, a literacy program that helps students achieve their goals in reading.
Creative Flow has recently been making progress through its new online resources and tutoring opportunities, and is currently on the path to gaining its official nonprofit status. Sapphire elaborated on the mission of Creative Flow and what the organization means to her.
“Creative Flow’s goal is to provide education and creative awareness to young people,” she said. “I want them to get the resources they need, whether it’s tutoring by one of our volunteers or a video posted on our website. And we’re really trying to make sure they learn to express themselves creatively, through writing or art or whatever it may be. That’s why we’ve made sure we keep the arts a big part of Creative Flow.”
CREATING CREATIVE FLOW
Sapphire said she first developed the idea for Creative Flow during her freshman year.
“I had always wanted to start an organization and find a way to make a difference in people’s lives; I just didn’t know where to begin,” she said. “And during my freshman year I had a teacher that ended up making me pretty discouraged by the end of the year. But the experience made me realize how important it is to give students encouragement and work with them in a positive way. So, I began Creative Flow so students that need help or want to get ahead have a supportive place to go.”
As someone involved in rigorous courses at her high school, Sapphire said she always wants students to have the opportunity to thrive in their education, instead of just getting by.
“I always want the resources we provide to be free,” she said. “When I held our first workshop the summer after my freshman year, the adults I had organized it with told me I was eventually going to need to charge the students enrolling as Creative Flow grew. I know charging a small fee would make things a lot easier instead of having to rely on donations, but I also know there are a lot of kids who don’t have the money to pay any fees, even small ones. It’s difficult for a lot of people to get good grades and tutoring can be very expensive. But I know these students have so much potential, they just might need outside help. Or even if they’re doing well, they might simply want to stay ahead. They should have that opportunity. A big lesson I’ve learned is to always get ahead before getting behind. I know I can help people, and I have the time to help, so I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t take that opportunity.”
Creative Flow has held two week-long workshops during the summers of 2018 and 2019 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“At our first workshop, we only had six students enrolled,” she said, “and by the next summer we had a dozen. They’ve mainly focused on literature and writing skills, along with some college information and standardized test-taking preparation. We took a field trip to Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina, and had them work on their writing skills through short stories afterwards. We actually had a professor from Harvard University come and help with the instruction that day. It’s great to know that those experiences were free for the students.”
Over the past few months, Sapphire said Creative Flow has moved to solely online tutoring and resources.
“Since the start of the spread of COVID-19, we’ve been unable to hold our workshops or do really anything in person,” she said. “But that doesn’t mean we’ve stopped working with students. It’s now an opportunity for older students to volunteer with Creative Flow, so we now have about 10 of them as tutors. It’s awesome that we’ve been able to keep making progress with students digitally.”
Her time with Creative Flow has taught her a great deal, Sapphire said, and she feels lucky to have had the opportunity to create the nonprofit.
“I feel so great after I’m able to work with a student or I see changes being made through Creative Flow,” she said. “I always want to go above and beyond for the students that need help. I think that’s what I like most, especially with the younger students. The program wasn’t intended for younger students initially, but once I started working with them I’ve realized it’s a blessing to make an impact in their lives, too. My time with Creative Flow has also definitely made me more conscious of my time. Now I often have plans with students or an interview with a volunteer, so I don’t really have the choice of procrastinating constantly or sleeping all day. That attitude has definitely been reflected in the effort I have to show in my school’s IB program. Both endeavors have benefitted each other.”
MESSAGES TO SHARE
“I really want to share with students the importance of self-advocating for your education,” Sapphire said. “Sometimes you’ll find yourself being ignored or pushed down, but you need to speak up when you can. It’s so important to receive the education you deserve.”
Sapphire explained what she believes people interested in volunteer work should know before starting their involvement in service.
“The first thing I always tell people who say they want to volunteer is that you should truly want to do it in your heart,” she said. “Right now, I’m a bit short on volunteers. But if someone wants to volunteer for the recognition or an award, they’re not going to be teaching students to the best of their ability. You need to dedicate yourself to the people you’re serving. But the second thing I want people to know is that no matter how many people you help, that’s still a work of volunteerism that could leave a lasting impact. One of my friends was convinced that he wasn’t going to go through with the IB program at our school, but I continued to give him words of encouragement because I knew he could do it and I didn’t want him to miss out on that opportunity. He ended up sticking with it and recently told me about the impression I’d made on him. It’s important to remember that an impact may be small, but that doesn’t mean it’s insignificant.”
To those that want to make a difference in the world and benefit others in their own way, Sapphire says this: “You can do anything you set your mind to. You can’t always wait for a perfect opportunity of volunteerism to show up; sometimes you have to make your own. All you have to do is put in the effort.”
For opportunities to volunteer with Creative Flow or to take advantage of their many resources, visit https://CreativeF.org