@paulrosengard is the Executive Director of SPARK , developer of the world’s most-researched and field-tested health and wellness programs for youth. SPARK provides After School, Physical Education, Early Childhood, and Coordinated School Health professionals with evidence-based resources, dynamic leadership training, and age-appropriate equipment.
During my first “real job” at the Chula Vista Parks and Recreation Department, I gained a lot of experience running afterschool programs. I realized afterschool leaders are blessed with the opportunity to teach youth valuable life lessons, like the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle. Our nationwide obesity epidemic makes it even more important for afterschool programs to work closely with schools and parents to ensure youth move a lot and make good food choices.
Part of this team effort includes fostering opportunities for youth to engage in structured and unstructured physical activity after school. As a former youth leader, I know there are a lot of challenges to making afterschool programs movement-rich including limited time, places and spaces to move safely, a lack of equipment, and/or sometimes just the wrong equipment (not age-appropriate). After conducting multiple research projects to develop and test the effectiveness of physical education lessons, I wrote my first afterschool curriculum. In the years following, our team has updated the curriculum to help afterschool leaders overcome the challenges they face implementing physical activity programs and developing environments that support youth wellness.
|Sherry Comer is the director of afterschool services in Camdenton, Missouri, and a former Afterschool Ambassador. Her school’s FIRST Robotics team went to the FIRST Robotics World Championships in St. Louis, Missouri, this year.|
Every day in Camdenton, Missouri, R-III afterschool programs, change is happening. Students are developing 21stcentury skills that will carry them into the future to be successful in an ever-changing global economy.
Through FIRSTRobotics, 4th through 12th grade students in our rural community have gotten excited and engaged in what is often referred to as “the hardest fun ever!” Our teachers and technical mentors push them to use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to go over, under, around and through walls that society says they can’t penetrate. FIRST is designed to create an atmosphere where students combine the excitement of sports with the rigors of STEM. Under strict rules and with limited resources and tight time limits, teams of students are challenged to raise funds, design a team "brand," hone teamwork skills, and build and program robots to perform prescribed tasks against a field of competitors. It’s as close to "real-world engineering" as a student can get.
Below, watch the Camdenton 4-H LASER team's winning robot in action!
As another school year is coming to an end and summer break is fast approaching, Public Profit’s new report, “Summer Matters: How Summer Learning Strengthens Students’ Success,” couldn’t have come at a better time.
For many lucky kids, summertime means camps, family trips and fun enrichment activities. But for a number of children, particularly those in low-income families, summer is a time when they fall behind academically as a result of unequal access to learning opportunities. As the report finds, summer learning programs are an essential part of the solution addressing the opportunity and achievement gaps between children from higher-income and lower-income families. The study, which takes a look at the impact of summer programs in Fresno, Los Angeles and Sacramento on kids involved in the programs, found that between 65% and 90% of the programs’ students qualified for free or reduced price lunch. It also found that 3 in 5 parents surveyed in the study stated that if their child wasn’t in the summer program, they would most likely spend the summer supervised at home.
June 21 is Summer Learning Day—a national advocacy day offering an opportunity to showcase your community’s out-of-school time program, as well as spread the word about the importance of summer learning.Host an event during the week of June 21 or anytime during the summer!
During this national showcase, your program will want to highlight how you work to:
- Maintain and advance participants' academic and developmental growth
- Support working families
- Keep children safe and healthy
- Send young people back to school ready to learn
Are you having a Summer Learning Day event? Visit www.summerlearningdaymap.org and promote it on the National Summer Learning Association’s event map! Make sure to list your event by June 21 and you may win one free conference registration to NSLA’s Summer Changes Everything™ national conference on summer learning.
You can also visit NSLA’s website at www.summerlearning.org/SLD for more information and resources on Summer Learning Day.
Note: These awards have a very short timeline, so don't delay!
Apply now for the NASA 2013 Summer of Innovation (SoI) Mini-Awards Program, and receive NASA STEM educational content for your program and up to $2,500 in funding. The SoI program is designed for students entering grades 4-9 and to be integrated into existing summer or afterschool programs. Programs should take place between June 17, 2013, and Dec. 16, 2013. The mini-awards application process will end on June 10, 2013, and NASA will begin notifying selected organizations on June 17, 2013. To read more about the SoI Mini-Awards and apply online, visit www.soi-mini-awards.com.
For more information about the history of the Summer of Innovation project and potential curriculum content, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/soi. To learn more about NASA’s broader education programs, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/education.
- Receive health and safety trainings in specific areas
- Comply with applicable state and local fire, health and building codes
- Receive comprehensive background checks (including fingerprinting)
- Receive on-site monitoring
While Congress is currently engaged in debate over immigration policy and the 2013 farm bill, two other policy issues are waiting patiently in the wings for their chance in the spotlight. There is a possibility that the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the House Education and the Workforce Committee will mark up their own versions of Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bills in June. At the same time, progress is slowly being made by the Appropriations Committee staff in both the House and the Senate on FY2014 spending bills. Now is a great time to weigh in on both of these issues:
- Contact your senators and representative to encourage them to support afterschool and summer learning as part of ESEA by co-sponsoring the Afterschool for America’s Children Act, S. 326. This bipartisan bill will enhance the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) initiative by strengthening school-community partnerships among other improvements.
- Funding for 21st CCLC and the Child Care Development Fund remain critical. Contact your senators and representative to express how sequestration and the economy have impacted access to afterschool programs in your community. Call on them to support funding for afterschool and summer learning programs in the FY2014 appropriations process.
Thank you for taking action on behalf of the 18 million children who would be engaged in afterschool programs this afternoon if a program were accessible to them.