Columns | Kane County Chronicle

St. Charles Park District: Science, slime and lessons from a life coach

As a life coach, Lisa Lombardi shares strategies with her clients on how to manage feelings of anxiety, boost self-esteem and improve their overall mood.

She works with all ages, and thanks to a special partnership between local park districts in the Tri-Cities, she brings her lessons to children ages 5 to 11.

This fall, the St. Charles Park District, in cooperation with the Batavia and Geneva park districts, is hosting a series of classes with Lombardi that combine fun with social-emotional learning.

“I help to teach them they have the power to be happy and successful with positive thinking,” Lombardi said.

Lombardi, a resident of the Tri-Cities, called her classes a power hour filled with positive good vibes. When she launched her life coaching career, she hadn’t envisioned helping children, but this mom saw firsthand how there were a lack of supporting programs for young people and it inspired her to build classes that let her be creative while also spreading a positive message to young people.

Many of her classes bring in elements of science, giving participants a hands-on approach to making something, and she loves to have fun with the seasonal holidays. In Spooky Thrills and Chills, participants work together as engineers creating an ice cream and in Grinch Goo-Tastic, participants make their own slime.

“As we are working with science, I’ll sneak in lessons about how to take deep breaths and other strategies for feeling anxious,” Lombardi said.

The slime may be fun and messy, but it also lets Lombardi talk about “stretchy-thinking” and the mindset that while we may not have what we want today, we know we are working to get there. In December, her class Intention Celebration encourages young people to set an intention for the new year and think about improvements such as being kinder or staying organized.

Within the class, children can socialize and have fun, and without realizing, find new strengths within themselves, whether it’s the ability to make new friends, to have fun with science or learn how to help others.

“The kids really come alive and they realize I can do things by myself, I can learn something new. And they walk away with more self-esteem,” Lombardi said.

She even offers a class titled Life Coach for a Day and said much like a babysitting course, her class helps students understand what it takes to be a leader and mentor others. For some participants, it’s a step toward taking on a lead role in their sports and clubs, while for others it may be a way to see how they can help themselves, she said.

Lombardi has been teaching for more than 10 years through local park districts, but the past few years have seen an uptick in her class enrollment, said Alex Hartzell, youth program supervisor for the St. Charles Park District.

The class Feeling Frozen in Life? is both a play on the popular film and characters as well as an opportunity for young people to talk about their feelings such as stress and anxiety and strategies for responding.

“All the classes are deeply meaningful,” Hartzell said.