LIVINGSTON, NJ — Dara Seidman, a rising junior at Livingston High School (LHS), recently established a community-based instructor platform in Livingston called “Talenthood” that helps connect high school students who excel various areas of expertise with local youth looking to improve their skills in sports, music, technology, creative hobbies, academics and babysitting.

Through a mobile application that assists with booking and scheduling, Talenthood provides parents of kids in grades Pre-K through eight with an accessible resource to find qualified instructors in their neighborhood that have been carefully selected to help kids build confidence in their interest area.

“The children that participate in Talenthood have the opportunity to grow in many ways,” said Seidman. “Most importantly, they are learning to give back to their community while at the same time improving their own personal skills. These children are learning the value of putting in extra time and hard work in order to better themselves in the area that they choose to pursue from working with their instructor.” 

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Seidman conducted a careful review process in order to assemble a team of “great, patient and friendly high school instructors” to conduct private or small-group sessions via Zoom or in person with proper social-distancing regulations in place.

Each of the instructors, all of whom are LHS students, excels in their areas of expertise and also have experience working with young children.

“Whether they have been a camp counselor, tutor, babysitter, etc. in the past, it is certain that each child will be mentored by a talented and responsible student with a lot of experience in the area they are teaching,” said Seidman.

Since many children “are looking for alternative summer camp options and ways to stay active with their friends,” Seidman noted that the small-group sessions have become extremely popular since the end of the school year.

Additionally, as the 2020-2021 school year approaches, Seidman said she has a strong group of academic tutors who will be available to assist kids in grades Pre-K and older with online learning or other academic needs.

As part of her community-minded approach to this endeavor, Seidman has decided to donate 20 percent of all profits to three charities that she believes are important to the Livingston community: Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors, The Friendship Circle and Trial Blazers for Kids. Students and their parents will be able to select which charity to donate to upon booking.

“Our goal is to help kids develop and improve not only on the field or in the classroom but to also teach them at a young age the importance of giving back,” she said. “In doing so, we’ve empowered our clients by letting them choose which charity they want to donate a portion of the lesson’s payment to. We hope that by doing this, they will feel good about themselves and are encouraged to continue with charity work and philanthropy.”

Seidman personally selected these three organizations because they all have a special meaning to her.  

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Seidman volunteered on a weekly basis at the Friendship Circle and said that the time she spent there inspired her to find other ways to help the Livingston community while also continuing to work with children.

She selected Trial Blazers For Kids, an organization focused on improving treatment options and finding cures for pediatric cancer, because it was created in memory of her brother’s friend and teammate, Jake Kestler, and because her family is “very dedicated in raising funds to help find a cure for all types of cancer.”

During the last year, she has also helped collect food for Livingston’s food pantry, the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW), which is managed by Livingston Neighbors Helping Neighbors (LNHN). She selected LNHN because she wanted to further support the organization’s efforts to assist Livingston residents who are struggling financially.

“I chose three diverse charities that have all impacted my life in some way and that our young clients could connect with as well,” she said. “At the end of the summer, we will be making our first round of donations to these charities.” 

Several weeks after bringing Talenthood to Livingston, Seidman said it has been “an extremely positive experience” so far.

“I have not only learned the importance of giving back to my community, but also how to keep organized, as I am in charge of managing the finances, promoting the platform and hiring new instructors,” she said. “All of these skills will help me in the future in whatever career I choose to pursue.”

All bookings must be done directly through the Talenthood app due to the philanthropic nature of this program. Visit Www.talenthood.com to learn more or search “Talenthood” in the App Store or Google Play Store to download the app and book a lesson.