Photo courtesy of Jay Cranman

Hands On Atlanta was founded in 1989 when Elise Eplan, Kent Alexander, and a group of young professionals got together to brainstorm on finding solutions to some of the many challenges facing our city. This weekend marks their annual MLK Day of Service.

Hands On Atlanta has teamed up with The King Center, Morehouse College, and more than 30 other nonprofits and schools to provide 200+ opportunities to do something good during the King Holiday.

Click here to learn more and to register to volunteer.

Jay Cranman has been Hands On Atlanta’s President and CEO since 2016. In advance of this weekend’s volunteer event, Jay gave us his Top 5 Things to do With Your Teenagers.

① Pickleball: We were originally a tennis family, but were introduced to pickleball while on vacation, and have quickly fallen in love. If you aren’t familiar, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in the US, and is a low-impact, but fast-paced paddle sport. Think mini-tennis. But unlike tennis, pickleball is more approachable for all ages and skill levels. The game was easy to learn and fun for our entire family, especially my two boys (ages 15 and 11), who relish being able to legitimately compete with their parents. 

② Hiking: If you’ve lived in Atlanta for more than five minutes, you know how great our city is for hiking. We’re particularly fond of the East Palisades Trail along the Chattahoochee River, or the exposed granite fields of Arabia Mountain, which feels like walking the set of Star Trek. We also frequent Cochran Mill Park, which is ~20 miles southwest of the airport.

③ Exit: The Game:  In the before times, our boys loved escape rooms. They were drawn in by the story and intricate physical and mental puzzles. After trying several in-home versions, we’ve come to love this series of Exit: The Game’s one-time use escape room games for the home. Our family doesn’t always escape the imaginary room, but when the clock is ticking, we always have a good time solving the riddles together. Pro tip: start with the beginner series and grow from there!

④ Horror movies: I’m a film buff. There is typically nothing I’d rather be doing than watching a movie. I’ve never been a fan of horror. Ever since “A Nightmare on Elm Street” scarred me as a kid, I never went back to the genre. But since the pandemic, when my kids control the remote, they gravitate toward horror more than anything else. Some titles we’ve explored this year include “The Conjuring,” “Get Out,” “IT,” “Halloween,” “Scream,” and “The Quiet Place.” It has been fun going deep into something that we can all experience together for the first time.

⑤ Volunteer together: Especially during the pandemic, volunteering has given our family a way to feel more in control and gain perspective. One of our favorite projects from last year was distributing meals at Ebenezer Baptist Church on MLK Day.

Rough Draft

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