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.
By Luci Manning
Isaac Litton Alumni Feed 70 Boys in After-School Program (The Tennessean, Tennessee)
Five days a week, 70 teenage boys receive delicious meals courtesy of Second Harvest Food Bank thanks to their afterschool program at Isaac Litton High School in Nashville. Micah Kimble, vice president of Backfield in Motion, a nonprofit dedicated to afterschool tutoring and athletics programming, used to prepare the meals himself, until Mary Ann Baker started volunteering. An Isaac Litton alum herself, Baker told The Tennessean how she encouraged other alumni so they could serve the next generation of students and provide an enjoyable afterschool experience.
New Program to Pair Mentors With Young Women (The Daily Reporter, Michigan)
Last week, representatives from the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Branch County announced a new afterschool program designed to boost self-worth and a positive self-image in young women. According to The Daily Reporter, the ultimate goal of the program is to make the girls feel good about themselves and to quell destructive behaviors born out of poor self-esteem and bad choices. The Girlz Club of Branch County is looking for mentors to volunteer to work with young women on the issues they face while going through puberty: bullying, teen pregnancy, depression, smoking and drinking, cyber addiction, peer pressure, sex, stress, and eating disorders.
Program Shows Youth a Friendlier Side of Police (Leader Telegram, Wisconsin)
Afterschool students at the Boys & Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley got to spend some quality time with police officers from the local Eau Claire Police Department last month, and will continue to in the future thanks to the new Blue Chips program. Kyle Roder, the police department’s community relations officer, told the Leader-Telegram that they want to build a positive relationship with youth in the community. Students who were respectful, completed their homework and participated in physical activities were chauffeured to Blue Chips' first event, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire men’s and women’s basketball games. The kids had a great time, saying that they saw the police officers as “friends.”
Food Drive Event Involves Youngest Volunteers Ever (Dayton Daily News, Ohio)
For the first time, afterschool students, as young as kindergarteners, bustled around the Dayton-area Foodbank last month and helped sort and pack food items. Afterschool Program Director Emily Gray told the Dayton Daily News that “Citizenship is one of the values we try to teach the kids. Since the Foodbank has been such a long-time partner for us, we wanted to give back to the community through them.” The afterschool students receive free meals from the Foodbank at the Dakota Center every day.
By Luci Manning
Norman After-School Program Takes on Unhealthy Party Foods (The Norman Transcript, Oklahoma)
According to the The Norman Transcript, “Norman’s Community After School Program is taking a bite out of bad childhood eating habits.” The afterschool program released “Kids in the Kitchen,” a holiday cookbook with 49 tasty and healthy recipes. Recipes include a zombie smoothie for Halloween, Grinchy Party Poppers for Christmas, and raspberry applesauce for sweet treats on Valentine’s Day, and more. The afterschool program emailed a copy of the cookbook to parents and printed 100 copies. “We are hoping to make slow and steady changes to the unhealthy holiday party snack culture,” Lindsey Ellis, CASP Be Fit coordinator, told The Norman Transcript.
Nicol David, Top Female Squash Player in World, Inspires Girls in New York (Daily News, New York)
Earlier this week, the world’s top female squash player, Nicol David, spent time with two dozen pre-teen and high school-age girls and gave squash pointers and spoke to them about the sport. David also talked about how supportive her parents have been and what it was like to grow up in Malaysia. The girls are part of the afterschool program at Harlem’s SL Green StreetSquash Center. “One of the issues at this age is girls don’t really push themselves, and don’t have a lot of role models at this point,” Sasha Diamond-Lenow, StreetSquash’s director of social work, told the Daily News. “It’s inspiring to see a facility like this,” David told the Daily News. “To have squash bring all these girls together, to see all of them smiling, it’s really fulfilling. And it’s so nice that I can, hopefully, contribute something.”
In a post on Off the Kuff, Charles Kuffner writes: “Kids who are bored are more likely to get into trouble than kids who are busy. Doesn’t make them bad kids, it just makes them kids. I don’t know about you, but I certainly did a few stupid things when I was a kid and didn’t have anything better to do. The fact that federal grants are getting scarcer for [afterschool programs], presumably in the name of “austerity” or “smaller government”, is a scandal and a travesty, but this is the world we live in right now. We can pay now to help keep kids busy and engaged and productive, or we can pay later when they’re not. You tell me what makes more sense.”
As part of an expanded effort to combat child hunger, the Food on the Move program is providing free evening meals to children ages 18 and younger at 17 different sites in Waco. In order to participate in the free meals program, each of the sites must offer some sort of enrichment activity, such as tutoring, homework help, sports or a reading club. “If we think of all that parents, in particular low-income working parents, have to face—of scheduling problems and transportation issues people face often in Waco—we know this program can combine a couple of really basic needs and help meet those for families in a way that will allow them to focus on continuing to provide for their families and work hard at their jobs if they know that there’s a place that’s safe that their children can go to after school and receive some homework help as well as a free meal,” Kelsey Scherer, child nutrition outreach specialist for the Texas Hunger Initiative, told the Waco Tribune.
By Luci Manning