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Afterschool Snack, the afterschool blog. The latest research, resources, funding and policy on expanding quality afterschool and summer learning programs for children and youth. An Afterschool Alliance resource.
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DEC
5
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Los Angeles afterschool program builds 'a world fit for kids!'

By Matt Freeman

25 years ago, riots exploded in South Central Los Angeles in the wake of the acquittal of four police officers charged with beating a prostrate taxi driver named Rodney King. The event called attention to issues of race and economic inequities, one element of which was cutbacks in the L.A. school system that had resulted in the elimination of physical education and other programs.

From the ashes of the riot grew an innovative afterschool program called A World Fit for Kids! (WFIT), whose leaders were determined to give inner-city youth opportunities for physical fitness, wellness and self-esteem programming that had been lost to budget cuts. In the 25 years since, the program has touched the lives of more than 460,000 children and family members in the city, encouraging them to make healthy decisions over the course of their lives. Along the way, it has pioneered a research-based training model called Mentors in MotionSM that prepares high school “Coach-Mentors” to work with elementary and middle school children, helping both age groups achieve health and fitness goals and develop strategies for success in all aspects of their lives.

“We believe physical activity is a vital tool for personal growth,” says Normandie Nigh, the program’s CEO. “Traditional programs usually emphasize competitive sports and stand-alone recreational activities. But we take a more comprehensive approach, training our staff and Coach-Mentors to address the whole child by linking healthy bodies with healthy minds. We train them to help students increase their self-awareness, improve their capacity to self-manage, and take greater responsibility for the decisions they make.”

DEC
1
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Philadelphia afterschool program uses martial arts to achieve social and emotional learning

By Guest Blogger

By Matt Freeman

“We’re in the business of developing healthy habits of mind and body,” says Dr. Salvatore Sandone, Sensei and CEO of the Zhang Sah Martial Arts. “So we surround our afterschool students with positive role models and work to develop a sense of resilience through social and emotional learning.”

The Philadelphia program puts heavy emphasis on physical exercise and fitness, carving out time for its K-8 students to play at a local park or playground, as well as learning and practicing the martial arts that are the core of the program’s curriculum. Zhang Sah operates at two locations, serving approximately 95 students from eight different schools at each. Children also get a healthy snack every afternoon and spend time doing homework.

The program takes its name from the Korean term for “brave scholar,” and its design embodies a philosophy that combines martial arts with youth development principles. Sandone says the program is structured to value equally the development of mind, body, and character. Instructors are trained to emphasize benevolence, courtesy, humility, integrity, perseverance, self-control, and stewardship. 

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learn more about: Health and Wellness Program Profiles
NOV
17
2017

IN THE FIELD
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HEPA Success Story: DC SCORES

By Faith Savaiano

In 1994, a former school teacher in Washington, D.C., began an afterschool soccer program for 15 girls who had little to do after their school days. The teacher, Julie Kennedy, soon realized that the team relationships the girls built on the field translated well to other activities they could pursue during their afterschool time, such as slam poetry and community service. With that, the DC SCORES program was born, and now has been replicated in 12 cities across the United States and Canada.

DC SCORES afterschool programming implements a unique combination of competitive soccer, slam poetry, arts enrichment, and service learning on an alternating year-round schedule. According to the Chief Program Officer, Sean Hinkle, this holistic model combined with a focus on delivering a high-quality experience allows every student to define and achieve their own version of success through the program.

“The different ways that kids can connect with one another, trusted adult mentors, and with the bigger community really sets us apart [with] many different ways for kids to find success,” said Hinkle.

OCT
10
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Success Story: Girls on the Run

By Faith Savaiano

Twenty years ago in Charlotte, N.C., a young woman began the first Girls On the Run (GOTR) team as an individual effort. But when the program was covered in Runner’s World, a running-focused magazine, the demand for this girls-specific running program exploded. Today, GOTR has more than 200 councils across all 50 states, serving more than 200,000 girls each year.

The program’s rapid growth presented the young organization with the challenge and opportunity to develop a more structured curriculum, according to Dr. Heather Pressley, senior vice president of mission advancement.

“The team at headquarters realized that the organic growth was great but it was very fast, [and] we needed to look into the quality and consistency of the program across sites where it was being offered,” Pressley said. “We took the original concept of building confidence through running and created an intentional curriculum with measurable physical, social, emotional, and life skills outcomes.”

OCT
9
2017

IN THE FIELD
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Students harness healthy habits at Camp Fire Wise KidsĀ®

By Tiereny Lloyd

For the students and staff of Camp Fire Wise Kids® afterschool programs in and around Dallas, Texas, health is all about balance. By emphasizing the importance of a balanced diet and of balancing “energy in” and “energy out,” staff hope to empower children to make a lifetime’s worth of healthy and wise choices.

Like other Camp Fire programs across the nation, the Wise Kids program relies on the “Thrive{ology}” framework. Described as a “research-based, measurable approach to youth development,” Camp Fire developed the approach in partnership with the California-based Thrive Foundation for Youth. It comprises four components:

  1. Helping children identify their “sparks” – that is, their interests and passions
  2. Guiding them to adopt a “growth” mindset – the belief that they can learn new skills all the time
  3. Urging them to set and manage goals for themselves
  4. Encouraging them to reflect on what they’ve done and accomplished

Camp Fire Lone Star layers its Wise Kids framework over the health and physical education standards written into the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards issued by the state’s department of education. The health and physical education standards are generally in line with the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards developed by the National AfterSchool Association.