By Luci Manning
Chambersburg students participating in the Kids Learning After School summer program celebrated the program’s 11th annual Diversity Day with a colorful poster display this week! The artwork showcased the themes in three posters illustrating people of all colors holding hands next to a globe. When the Public Opinion asked Odalys Ramos what she learned at camp she replied, “We can all communicate in different ways and that we each are different, we love to do stuff together and we like getting to know each other and knowing who we are deep inside.”
A new building will house the YWCA afterschool program, allowing it to expand to accommodate all the families who have been eagerly waiting to get off the afterschool program’s waiting list, reports the Newburyport News. The maximum capacity of the space has doubled, enabling the Y to serve the community better than ever, providing a safe environment for many more Newsburyport children to learn through play.
Tower Street Community Center’s summer learning program, an extension of Westerly Public Schools’ Before and After School Enrichment Program, is partnering with Save the Bay, a local environmental organization, to teach students about science, water quality, habitats and biodiversity. The Westerly Sun reported on the program’s latest adventure—a trip aboard the Elizabeth Morris where students explored the ecology of the Little Narragansett Bay. The students, equipped with binoculars and maps, were excited to spot a cunner, a tautog, and a black-fingered mud crab.
Local boxer Jerry Belmontes visited Corpus Christi Parks & Recreation Department’s Latchkey Program at Schanen Elementary School to give 130 children some heartfelt advice about bullying. Belmontes dropped out of prekindergarten and kindergarten because he was bullied and now he’s determined to help others. According to the Caller Times, Latchkey Program students have also heard from members of the military representatives from colleges about reading, nutrition and recycling.
This week Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced the bipartisan Summer Meals Act, S. 2527, which would enhance the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Summer Food Service Program. The legislation would help improve nutrition and enhance learning in underserved areas by better integrating summer learning programs with meal programs, making it easier for community-based organizations to participate in the summer meals program, addressing barriers to summer meals in rural communities and by providing a third meal for children who attend evening enrichment programs.
Across the country, 31 million children receive free or reduced price school lunch—meaning their families live at or near the poverty line—but only 1 in 7 of these high-need children have access to summer meals. The Summer Meals Act would help more children access healthful food by lowering the community threshold from 50 percent to 40 percent or more of students receiving free or reduced price lunch to be eligible for the summer meals program, making it consistent with the eligibility for summer learning programs provided through the 21st Century Community Learning Centers initiative. This legislation would also reduce the paperwork burden for community based organizations who want to participate in the program, provide children with transportation to the summer meals sites in hard-to-serve areas, and would also offer an additional meal to children who attend evening programs.
By Luci Manning
To promote summer learning and increasing access to healthy food and physical activity, Washington Governor Jay Inslee declared June 20th Washington Summer Learning Day. Connie Ladenburg, a former state legislator and current member of the Piece County Council, commended the declaration in a piece for the News Tribune. Ladenburg wrote, “We have research and knowledge telling us quality summer programs make a difference, and we must continue investing in community and school partnerships that provide the quality summer learning experiences that both support children’s health and academic success while promoting experiences that create the lasting memories that all kids deserve during their summer vacation.”
Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam is on “book patrol” with the Memphis Police Department, traveling to summer camps and neighborhoods throughout the city to encourage students to read. READ20 Book Patrol goes beyond improving literacy, and as Haslam tells the Daily Times, it helps students connect with police officers “in the community in a casual and supportive environment.”
Last Wednesday a boat designed and built by 15 sixth graders after school was launched at Oakdale Lake. The students from M.C. Smith Intermediate School worked with the Hudson Sloop Club for the past ten weeks, studying boat design and building the farm punt style boat from scratch with hand tools. “They surprised us with every class. They took to using the tools and didn’t want to let them go” said Ed Csukas, one of the Hudson Sloop Club members who headed the project, to the Register-Star.
Students who tend the Southbridge Community Youth Garden are making their community a little brighter with fresh vegetables and an entrepreneurial spirit. When the afterschool program first started, many students could not name a vegetable they wanted to grow, but now they are experts, the News Journal reports. The students grow a variety of vegetables and sell them at a youth-led farm stand on the last Friday of each month. According to the National Gardening Association, this sort of program is so important because kids who are involved in gardening tend know more about good nutrition, have broader tastes, and eat more vegetables.
By Jen Rinehart
Last month, state afterschool leaders from across the country were together in Washington, D.C., to share strategies for advancing afterschool and to discuss the ways that afterschool supports students and families. At the meeting, there was a lively discussion about the role of afterschool in supporting health and wellness for students.
In recent years, national afterschool providers like the Y of the USA, the National Recreation and Park Association, and Boys and Girls Clubs of America have pledged to adopt the National AfterSchool Association’s Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards. To expand beyond the national organizations’ affiliates, several statewide afterschool networks are working to get more programs, regardless of their national affiliation, to adopt the standards. For example:
- The Maryland Out of School Time (MOST) Network is directly connecting programs with partners and resources that support healthful behaviors; serving as a clearinghouse of information, partnering with the US Tennis Association and working with the Governor’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger by 2015 to help ensure healthful snacks and meals are served throughout the school year and during the summer. Check out one of their resources: Eat, Play, Learn: Out of School Time in Action.
- OregonASK and its partners have teamed up to offer a Health and Wellness Toolkit and Afterschool Curriculum. During the 2013-2014 school year the curriculum was piloted at the Woodburn After School Program. The toolkit is available free from OregonASK for use by afterschool programs across the state and beyond.
- In South Carolina, both the South Carolina Afterschool Alliance and the YMCA of Columbia have been playing a statewide leadership role. The YMCA of Columbia partnered with the University of South Carolina to create and evaluate strategies to meet the standards and is now working to help other Ys across the state adopt and meet the HEPA standards using these tested strategies. The South Carolina Afterschool Alliance is working with the South Carolina Obesity Council to include afterschool and the adoption of the HEPA standards as strategies in the South Carolina Obesity State Plan. Finally, both organizations are working with the University of South Carolina to develop centers of excellence—programs that are making the most progress in implementing the standards, strategically located across the state to help other programs come on board.
All three of these states are working closely with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, which offers no-cost online tools and resources to help afterschool providers create healthful environments for young people. Working together, state and national organizations can help ensure that local afterschool programs act as key partners in comprehensive efforts to ensure healthy futures for our youth. Check out the resources, links and policy tools from the Afterschool Alliance here.
By Luci Manning
Of the 21 million students who receive free and reduced price lunch during the school year, only 3 million receive federally funded meals during the summer. While that figure shows that only a fraction of the students who would benefit from the summer nutrition programs are getting the support they need, Jim Weill, president of the Food Research and Action Center, told PBS Newshour that there has actually been a 6 percent increase between 2012 and 2013 in the amount of students receiving federally funded meals during the summer. In the interview, Weill said there needs to be a greater effort to help these students attain quality, nutrient-dense meals in order to avoid the rise in hunger and obesity that typical occurs during the summer months.
For some students at King Elementary School, the afterschool program they attend during the year doesn’t end when summer vacation begins. Thanks to a partnership with the nonprofit Jane Foundation and a 21st Century grant, the school is able to offer music lessons during the summer. Jane Magers, director and CEO of the Jane Foundation, was so eager to get involved by providing donated instruments because, as she told the Des Moines Register, the organization “sees music as being critical to a child’s development, not only for the creative aspects but also to foster life skills.”
Thanks to an outstanding collaboration from businesses, nonprofits, a university and many members of the community, students in the Klamath Falls area have the opportunity to design and race model cars after school. Ponderosa Middle School students are putting the finishing touches on the hand held race cars that they designed in a 3-D modeling program with the help of Oregon Institute of Technology engineering students. One of the OIT students told the Herald and News that this type of activity is a great way to introduce the students to a lot of different STEM fields, saying “You get basic aerodynamics, you get 3-D modeling, you get a little bit of physics and it seems to be a pretty fun environment where they get to enjoy themselves while doing it.” The students will race their cars for the science fair at Oregon Tech Thursday.
Two ambitious high school students from a Milwaukee suburb are stepping up to help their fellow students through a tutoring program they started called Kids4Kids. The weekly program, which takes place at Milwaukee College Prep’s Lloyd Street Campus, is gaining in popularity as students from additional suburbs sign on to be tutors to inner city students. Chandlar Strauss, one of the co-founders, told the Journal Sentinel that she is hopeful that Kids4Kids can help “close the educational gap that exists between the city and suburbs and build a relationship between the communities.”
Want to get a head start planning your Lights On Afterschool event for this October?
The 2014 National Youth Science Day Experiment, Rockets to the Rescue!, is now available for pre-order at a discounted price of $21.95. Pre-ordered kits will be shipped beginning in mid July, at which time the price will go up to $23.95. Make sure to take full advantage of this discounted rate!
The University of Arizona developed the 2014 National Youth Science Day Experiment: Rockets to the Rescue!. This year, youth will be tasked with one mission: in light of the recent natural disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, National 4-H Council is asking youth to design and build an aerodynamic food transportation device that can deliver a payload of nutritious food to disaster victims. Youth will learn engineering concepts, develop math skills, learn about nutrition, and help solve a relevant global issue.
This guest blog was co-written by Signe Anderson and Kate Sims. Anderson is a Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst and Sims is a Child Nutrition Policy Analyst, both with the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC).
By Luci Manning
Once a week, ten afterschool students at Lecanto Primary School create a cooking show about nutrition, healthy living and active lifestyle. The “Nutrition Detective” segment airs during the schools morning show and showcases creative, nutritious recipes and healthy living tips. “Each segment begins with a computerized girl who introduces the segment, then follows with a video created by students who are either cooking, reading labels or giving educational nutritional information,” the Citrus County Chronicle reports. Physical education teacher and program organizer Dianna Bandhauer said she hopes to apply for future grants to offer students a salad bar or a grab-and-go healthy snack option.
When students from West Wendover Elementary School’s 21st Century Community Learning Centers afterschool program boarded the Northern Nevada Railway train for an educational day on the rails they were transported back to the Old West. The Ghost Riders of the Old Ely at Keystone Gulch gave the students quite a show as they reenacted an old fashioned train robbery, with robbers riding up on horses to invade the train cars. West Wendover Elementary Principal Brenda Carter told Elko Daily Free Press that the kids really enjoyed the performance. One first-grader told Carter, “I liked it when the train robbers came on. I was really scared, but it was a lot of fun!” While the students, many of whom had never been on a train before, learned about the diesel train they were actually riding in, they also learned about how early steam powered locomotives worked.
After a career in journalism, Tim Whitaker decided to put his pen to a different use and started the Mighty Writers afterschool program in Philadelphia. Whitaker envisioned a place where students could participate in an afterschool program or writing workshops and older youth could take SAT prep courses. After launching the program in 2009 with a Lenfest Foundation grant, now Mighty Writers is growing and expanding. The Daily News writes that the program has become a “treasured community resource,” and one student, Serenity Baruzzini, remarked, “I come because it gives me a sense of community. A lot of good vibes come out of this place.”
Ballroom dancing has become all the rage in New Orleans public schools and as a result some schools are integrating the new Mindsteppers program into physical education curriculum and other schools are starting afterschool clubs. Mindsteppers teaches students to tango, waltz, swing, salsa and merengue. Nathalie Gomes, world-renowned dancer and founder of Mindsteppers, told the Times-Picayune that not only does ballroom dancing improve students’ physical health, but “it also increases children’s self-esteem – especially for those who might not excel at traditional physical education activities – and places renewed emphasis on face-to-face interaction, rather than technology-focused “social networking.”