By Luci Manning
Kindergarteners Take Concerns Over Gunshots in Neighborhood to Mayor (Star Press, Indiana)
After Kindergartener and activist Terry Miles wrote a letter to Muncie Mayor Dennis Tyler about recent shootings in his neighborhood, Terry and the rest of his classmates at the MuncieP3 afterschool program then took a trip to the mayor’s office to discuss ways to prevent gun violence in their community. Terry’s letter read: “Dear Mayor, I want to ask an important question. People have been shooting at night and I want to ask you ‘Can you make them stop?’ I want to meet this man who told the other people to shoot guns because it is inappropriate to shoot guns.” Brittany Cain, an instructor for the MuncieP3 program, told the Star Press that regardless of their age, these students can make a real difference.
Some Teens Are Blown Away By the Rush of Competitive Sailing (Buffalo News, New York)
On Monday, 50 students took to the water to launch another season of a competitive afterschool sailing program at the Buffalo Yacht Club. The students practice various complicated and scientific techniques during the week, and then on Fridays, they get a chance to put their skills to the test in a race. While many participants have been sailing for years, anyone interested is encouraged to join the program. Alyssa Vianese, a senior at Fredonia High School, told the Buffalo News that they “just go for it,” adding that “sailing is a sport for anyone and everyone, and it’s a lifetime sport.”
James Hmurovich: Reach Out to Others to Help End Child Abuse (State Journal-Register, Illinois)
To commemorate Child Abuse Prevention Month, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America James Hmurovich issued a call to action to all Americans and specifically Illinoisans, to improve the lives of children and families. In an article for the State Journal-Register, Hmurovich writes that everyone has a part to play.
“We all have a role to play in healthy child development and the prevention of child abuse. Coaches, teachers, babysitters and health care professionals work with children every day and already are working to move the country toward being a greater place for children. But even if you don't work with or around children, you still can have a positive effect on their lives. If you have time in the afternoon, you could volunteer at after-school programs or help coach sports teams to ensure parents have a safe place for kids to go when they get out of school and before parents typically get home from work…. By taking the time to volunteer for before- or after-school programs, offering to help families in your own neighborhood, or working to ensure that programs proven to prevent child abuse continue to be funded, you can have a meaningful effect on the lives of children throughout the community. Actions like these help bring together communities, reduce isolation and help children and families succeed by providing them with tools and resources for optimal development. If we all pledge to do each of these activities at least once during the month of April, we can make a real difference.”
By Luci Manning
Star-Telegram columnist Bob Ray Sanders makes a compelling case for why Fort Worth’s crime prevention tax needs to be renewed, citing the positive learning experiences at the Fort Worth After School (FWAS) program. Miguel Garcia, an Afterschool Ambassador and program director of FWAS, told the Star-Telegram how the afterschool programs “provide a safe, positive learning experience for students at the end of the school day when many of them otherwise would be at home, or somewhere else, without adult supervision.” Sanders calls the $1.1 million the FWAS program receives in Crime Control and Prevention District funding, “a small amount of money for all the benefit that comes from this exceptional program.”
Roxbury coach Tony Richards was there many years ago when Shabazz Napier, point guard for the University of Connecticut, learned to play the sport he loved at the Roxbury YMCA. Richards started coaching kids in Boston neighborhoods in his “No Books, No Ball” program to keep his son and nephew off the streets. Richards told the Boston Globe, “You see these single mothers, you see these kids that need mentoring… that’s the energy that keeps me coming back.” Napier will play in this year’s Final Four on Saturday.
On any given Monday night, dozens of students are engaged in some friendly competition at Jacksonville High School’s chess club. The newly formed club was intended not only for the students to improve their chess skills for the sake of winning the game, but to employ those skills in all areas of life. Club co-founder Larry Richmond told the Jacksonville Daily Progress that to excel in chess, the students need to utilize logical thinking and a strong work ethic, qualities he believes are “the greatest value to academics.”
Donors at Hicksville blood drives were treated to snacks and juice from a special group of “little doctors.” Students from seven Hicksville Elementary schools, who volunteer through the Little Doctors afterschool program, not only served refreshments but also assisted potential donors before clinicians took over the process. “Little Doctors is an opportunity for students to learn the value of volunteerism and the importance of participating in community service,” Fork Lane School Principal Christopher Scardino told the Hicksville Illustrated News.
By Luci Manning
Children Learn How to Create a “Bully-Free Zone” (The Journal, New York)
Renowned storyteller Queen Nur taught afterschool students about the dangers of bullying using folk tales, fables and hip-hop at John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Ogdensburg last week. Nur created the program to encourage children to have a strong sense of self-worth. Nur told The Journal that she wants children to know and love themselves because, “So many people accept what people say about them when bullies pick a fight or tease them… But if you can get children to understand who they are and then value who they are, then they can understand that bullying has nothing to do with them.”
Students Jump at Chance to Help (Daily Journal, New Jersey)
Students in Haleyville-Mauricetown School’s 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program raised more than $1,200 in donations jumping rope for a good cause, the Daily Journal reports. The students were participating in the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart fundraiser. To prepare for the fundraising event, the students learned about heart-healthy snacks and exercises throughout February and then showcased what they learned at fitness stations during the fundraiser late last month.
Lafayette Elementary School Club Turning Fifth-Graders Into Orators (Boulder Daily Camera, Colorado)
Lafayette Elementary School is training the next generation’s set of public speakers in its afterschool Oratory Club. Angela Hambleton, the club’s founder, told the Boulder Daily Camera, “When these kids realize what they can do it’s magic in this room.” The students have performed classic speeches like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and the Gettysburg Address in addition to their own original pieces.
The Sport of Squash Catches on in Schools (Washington Post, District of Columbia)
The afterschool program SquashSmarts is winning over skeptical students in inner cities across the country. Founded in 1995 to pair fitness with tutoring to prevent at-risk students from dropping out, SquashSmarts has grown as the sport’s popularity has grown in recent years. Stephen Gregg, Executive Director of SquashSmarts, told the Washington Post how the program “recruits its players from public schools, many of which can’t afford to offer nontraditional sports. It tracks participants’ fitness, grade-point averages and college placements.” And in Philadelphia, a district with a high dropout rate, all those who stayed in the club for seven years have graduated on time and have been accepted into college.
By Luci Manning
Midnight Basketball Program Provides Safe Haven for Youths (Tampa Bay Times, Florida)
Every Friday night from 6 p.m. until midnight, anywhere from 40 to 80 kids gather to play basketball at the National Football League Youth Education Town Center in Jackson Heights. This late-night basketball program is a safe space for students in the low-income neighborhood in East Tampa, giving them relief from the pressures outside. Essie Sims—community leader, pastor and founder of the program—told the Tampa Bay Times that midnight basketball offers mentoring opportunities and teaches students life skills, “We’re bringing in successful business owners and leaders to come in and talk with these kids, and give them positive affirmation on to some of the goals that they have in mind and how we can help them achieve these goals.”
Palm Springs’ Tara Lazar Gives Children Tools to Cook, Eat Healthy (Desert Sun, California)
Students in Palm Springs are talking about the hands-on cooking classes they take part in through an afterschool program. Tara Lazar, local restaurant owner, told the Desert Sun that she partnered with the Palm Springs Boys & Girls Club to teach middle school and high school students about good nutrition and to show them how they can make their own healthful meals. The weekly program, which takes place in Lazar’s restaurant, has had a real impact on the students, many of whom prepare what they learn in class for themselves and their families at home.
Phila. Students Sour at State Chess Tourney (Philadelphia Inquirer, Pennsylvania)
Philadelphia students collected 110 awards at the Pennsylvania State Scholastic Chess Championships this weekend, a tournament sponsored by After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP). Marciene S. Mattleman told the Philadelphia Inquirer that she founded ASAP to promote afterschool recreation and enrichment in the city’s most underserved areas. Mattleman touted the program’s success, saying that there are “3,200 kids playing chess every week in Philadelphia.”
Middle Village’s Class of Stars (Queens Times Ledger, New York)
Afterschool students have been given a behind the scenes look at what goes into creating Broadway productions thanks to the Cultural After School Adventures program. The program brought in professional performer Braddon Mehrten, the program’s director and mentor, to help the students put on their own rock- and pop-inspired performances. Mehrten told the Queens Times Ledger that “it’s great when the light bulb goes off and the kids see there is something beyond school that can help them learn.”
By Luci Manning
U.S. Naval Academy Workshops for Girls in Middle School Build Interest in Math, Sciences (Washington Post, District of Columbia)
In an effort to encourage middle school girls to get excited about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) careers, the U.S. Naval Academy hosted workshops last week to give girls hands-on learning opportunities. At the event, girls dissected a sheep’s heart, launched straw rockets, and navigated Lego robots through a maze. Lacey, an Annapolis seventh-grader, told the Washington Post that the bioterrorism workshop was “different from my regular science class in school, I like to see how science works in the real world and how important it is.” The Naval Academy has hosted girls-only events since 2007 to build interest in STEM fields.
Barking Up the Right Tree (Virginian-Pilot, Virginia)
Reading just got a little more fun for kids who attend the YMCA BARKS (Books and Reading for Kids in Suffolk) afterschool program. Thanks to a new partnership between the Suffolk Humane Society and the Suffolk YMCA, 39 students are able to boost their reading levels by reading out loud to therapy dogs. Rick Matthews, district vice president of the YMCA of South Hampton, told the Virginian-Pilot the program is “all about building confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.”
MPS Program Uses Hip-hop, Performance to Boost Academics (Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin)
A hip-hop afterschool program at Sherman Park’s Washington High School gives students the opportunity to tap into their creative side and the confidence to apply their talents in the classroom. Dave Olsen and Jeremy Bryan, The Figureheads, founded the educational rap group in partnership with Arts @ Large, a nonprofit dedicated to growing arts education in Milwaukee Public Schools. The Figureheads told the Journal Sentinel that they want the students to voice what is going on in their lives, and to express who they are and what they want to be. The students then combine their emotional testimony with technological skills like creating beats, recording lyrics and adding videos.
By Luci Manning
Cut out Junk Food Ads in Schools, Government Says (Associated Press, National)
Yesterday, first lady Michelle Obama announced that the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the National Recreation and Park Association will serve more fruits and vegetables at afterschool programs and ensure kids get 30-60 minutes of physical activity a day. The announcement was part of the fourth anniversary of the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative. Mrs. Obama said “This new approach to eating and activity is not just a fad," the Associated Press reports.
Later Gator, the new afterschool program at Lake Cormorant Elementary, offers a “life-changing experience” for its students, the Desoto Times reports. Dr. Margaret Boyd, Lake Cormorant Elementary school principal and founder of Later Gator, said she started the program to help “working parents whose jobs often prevent them from helping children with their homework.”
Empowerment Circle Expands Horizons (Marion Star, Ohio)
Members of the Girls Empowerment Circle at Grant Middle School and Marion Harding High School are learning about dating violence so they can educate themselves and other students about healthy relationships. The group, which is funded by 21st Century Community Learning Center grant, is comprised of about 13 to 15 girls who are dedicated to helping their peers make smart life decisions. Not only do they help others by providing important information and resources, but organizer Rosalind Burks explains to the Marion Star that the program encourages girls to set goals for themselves, engage in community service and to continue their education after graduating from high school.
STEM Pilot Exposes Young to Tech, Science Careers (Journal-News, Ohio)
Elementary and junior high students in Hamilton will be able to enjoy a new afterschool program focused primarily on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education starting next month. Tyrome Bembry, founder of the new pilot program STEM2Dream program, told the Journal-News that the program is targeting kids from an under-served neighborhood because “STEM education will give them the ability to dream. It’s a tool they can use to fight the war on poverty.”
By Luci Manning
Bystanders Targeted in New Bullying Program (Foster’s Daily Democrat, New Hampshire)
Middle school students are learning to stop bullying through their participation in the Somersworth Youth Connection (SYC) afterschool program. Once a week, the students test the Courage to Care's curriculum, developed by the University of New Hampshire. The program combats bullying by teaching students social and emotional skills like kindness, empathy and civility. SYC Director Maureen Jackson told Foster’s Daily Democrat that she hopes the curriculum will be implemented in all middle schools next year.
“The Salvation Army is taking in kids who would otherwise be in school if it weren’t for harsh winter weather, teacher training days or any other reason that school might be cancelled,” the Akron Beacon Journal reports. The Salvation Army offers afterschool and day care programs in Akron and hopes to increase program attendance by offering reduced rates during snow days.
A new partnership between the city school system and Hartford Public Library was announced this week to allow students and teachers more access to the library’s resources. The library will work with city schools in neighborhoods across the city to host afterschool and summer programs, tutoring, student art exhibits and provide library books and online materials that fit with the schools’ curriculum, the Hartford Courant reports.
The recent snowfall brought fun learning experiences to students who participate in the 4-H afterschool program in Canton. Fifteen afterschool students learned about local wildlife in the classroom and firsthand on a nature hike. Armed with binoculars and a sense of adventure, the students sought out evidence of deer, squirrels, coyotes and porcupines in the area. Afterschool program leader Nicki Hamilton-Honey told the Daily Courier-Observer that she wanted the children to be immersed in and appreciate nature.
By Luci Manning
After-School Activities Empower Kids (The Hill, District of Columbia)
A recent nation-wide study from Deborah Lowe Vandell, researcher at the University of California-Irvine School of Education, reaffirmed that high quality afterschool programs give children incredible opportunities to succeed. In an op-ed for The Hill, Vandell writes: “Participating in after-school activities–consistently, day in and day out–improves student achievement for kids from low-income families. In fact, taking part in these programs can help close the gap in math achievement between low-income and high-income children.”
Statewide Network Pushes After-school Efforts (The Tennessean, Tennessee)
Afterschool programs in Tennessee are starting to coordinate their efforts, so that students from across the state can have access to high quality care. Mary Graham, United Way of Tennessee president, emphasized to The Tennessean the “need to improve access all across the board, including the gap populations, like the middle school population, more programs for at-risk (children) and more for rural areas.” The United Way of Tennessee is coordinating the new Tennessee Afterschool Network.
See How a Partnership Increases Attendance at Boys and Girls Clubs Afterschool Programs (MLive, Michigan)
Thanks to a new partnership with Dean Transportation, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Grand Rapids is able to help more students. The transportation service, which comes at no cost to the clubs or the school district, will enable Grand Rapids to take on children who recently had their afterschool programs cut. Nicole Rodammer, director of development at the Boys & Girls Club, told MLive that they are hoping to add 90 more children to the 300 they already serve at three different locations. The clubs provide a variety of activities from homework help and academic support to extracurricular activities.
Three hundred passionate students from 36 high schools throughout the Los Angeles Unified School District gave back to the community’s homeless last weekend at an event coordinated by the Beyond the Bell afterschool program. Alvaro Cortes, executive director of Beyond the Bell, explained to the Los Angeles Times that the day of service was an effort to empower students to make a difference. The students served meals, sorted clothes, cleaned and painted, while gaining a valuable perspective from the personal stories of the homeless men and women they met.