In a perfect world, we could live in our truth. In a perfect world, we would feed our starving neighbor. In a perfect world, the village would raise and care for the children.
Last year while in California, I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the wonderfully talented Eric Benet and his then fiance, now wife, the beautiful Manuela Testolini. During our meeting, Manuela and I had a wonderful conversation where I learned about the amazing work that she is doing, in her own right, to benefit children around the world through her non-profit, In a Perfect World (IAPW).
We are all aware that someone in Manuela’s position could easily spend her time roaming Rodeo Drive, traveling the world in leisure, brunching with friends and otherwise focusing on her own life. However, her connection to the human cause and passion for children led her to do something more. My experience of Manuela was of someone with a kind spirit, humble and willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Her journey to founding “In a Perfect World” began while she was consulting for another non-profit, and finding that she wanted a more hands on experience with the young people. Her ultimate goal was to empower the youth. She wanted young people to be able to express themselves through the arts and to take responsibility for the community in which they live. Manuela began with art workshops, where she instructed the youth to envision and artistically express their ideas of a perfect world. “I was amazed at what the children had to say. Despite their circumstances, they had very grandiose ideas about their world and the solutions to many of the ills that plague their community”, said Manuela.
Later Manuela founded “In a Perfect World” where the vision is to provide children the opportunities to express themselves artistically about their needs, dreams, and issues that impact their lives, as well as supporting community-based organizations that implement innovative approaches and programs designed to, address these needs and issues, and to develop the type leadership in children consistent with the mission of empowering children.
IAPW has several programs geared towards youth empowerment. One such program is the Youth Ambassadors. Here, five to six teens are selected and mentored to participate in their community in meaningful ways. The IAPW teens are working with an organization called “Heal the Bay” and will be participating in the big beach clean up that they host every year, in honor of Earth Day. The event is being held on April 21st from 9:30am to 12:00pm at the Santa Monica Pier. Hubby, Eric Benet, will be in attendance, along with other notable personalities. For more information, email [email protected]
IAPW’s other offerings to the youth include a new school in West Africa, two schools in Nicaragua and one in Haiti, with a second school being built in Haiti. IAPW is expanding its core programs and interested in continuing to engage the community it serves, the world. In addition to the Youth Ambassador Program, IAPW’s programs include the Giving Tree that supports community based organizations and educators in implementing innovative strategies and programs for children and REACH (Rural Education and Community Harmony) that empowers children to reach their fullest potential and to secure a brighter future.
Manuela Testolini is one of our L.Y.T.E. (Live Your Truth Experience) favorites. She continues to live her truth in a world that promotes living in the Land of Make Believe. And for that we say thank you!
To learn more about In A Perfect World, please visit their website at www.iapw.org.
Monica Cost is the Founder of Evidently Assured, brand strategy firm and the Live Your Truth Experience (L.Y.T.E.). She is the Author of the new life changing book on living an authentic life called, “The Things I Used to do to Sneeze!: How to live an authentic life with awesome sensations.” Email her at: [email protected]. Follow her via Twitter: @monicacost and Facebook.com/monicahairstoncost. www.monicacost.com.