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    SOAR Helps Teens Fly to Success

    By Jackie Adler, City of Dublin

    S.O.A.R: Self-confidence, Originality, Authenticity, and Responsibility. Four of the most important qualities a teenager could develop to define their belonging in the world, and that is what Debbie Martinez has set out to do through her business. 


    Martinez is the founder of SOAR, a program that offers workshops with fun exercises, 

    group discussion and guest presenters to support teen attendees in owning their voices, stepping into their power, and become leaders in their communities. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Martinez has made it her life’s mission to create safe space for children. SOAR is a natural extension of that vision.


    Martinez uses and has used her 25 years of theater background to fulfill her vision of creating a safe space for teenagers, where they feel valued, confident, heard, and their most authentic selves. “By tapping into emotional intelligence, students are better able to manage stress and anxiety, create community, and become more empathetic and compassionate people. “I have been very lucky to be able to create these opportunities for youth in various ways throughout my lifetime. I live in gratitude each day that I can be part of each child’s journey,” she says.  


    Martinez’s team is comprised of individuals from diverse professional backgrounds.

    “Each presenter opens different perspectives and possibilities. I bring in experts from different walks of life and different careers, which gives students an opportunity to see things in a bigger way, and broadens their world.” 


    SOAR has grown exponentially since its start, just last year in 2022. In February of 2023, 

    SOAR gained its nonprofit status. Before this, SOAR was primarily funded by Martinez and her partner, Kathleen Gremillion. Martinez and her team travel across the country, hosting multiple workshops a year. “We are starting to set up scenarios that will allow us to receive grants, and foundation donations as we move forward. We are currently accepting community, individual, and corporate donations. That funding will support growing the business and allow us to support under-served schools and organizations that do not have the resources to bring these opportunities to their communities. We are just getting our legs underneath us with funding this program but see a bright future ahead.” 


    Martinez offered her advice to her entrepreneurs. “My biggest advice would be to have a 

    vision and be passionate about that. I think a lot of people have a vision, but if they don’t believe in it 150% themselves, it’s difficult for others to buy into their vision or idea. Believe that what you’re doing is important, that it makes a difference and that it matters, and be able to express it clearly to people so that you can find support.” 


    Martinez has big goals for SOAR, with hopes for it to grow on national and international 

    levels. She’s encouraged by the success she’s already achieved and sees magic and transformation happen in every workshop. SOAR is changing the lives of teenagers one child at a time. 

    Learn more about SOAR: