By Luci Manning
A growing movement in the Bronx is getting students of all ages involved in writing computer code: in afterschool programs, during school, and at all-day weekend hackathons. Community and education organizations throughout the borough are stepping up their efforts to make coding lessons more accessible, which New York Public Library associate director of technology training programs Brandy McNeil recognizes as a key issue. “The problem is there aren’t enough quality, free programs out there,” she told the New York Times. The library is doing its part by expanding its six-week afterschool video game coding course in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island.
Renae Nottage has spent the past 26 years steering kids away from drugs and toward healthy habits at Miami-Dade County’s Parks and Recreation Department. She recently helped found the Fit 2 Play program with the University of Miami, which provides afterschool exercise activities, tutoring and nutrition lessons. “From being outdoors, to being active, to playing together, the program teaches these kids so many of the social skills that they’ll need to get through the rest of their lives,” UM pediatric researcher Dr. Sarah Messiah told the Miami Herald. Fit 2 Play is now a national model for anti-obesity programs, one that pediatricians are even promoting directly through medical prescriptions.
While boys and girls both enjoy chess when they’re younger, by sixth grade, girls often move onto other activities. That’s why Rebecca Rutledge, executive director of the Youth Chess League of Central Oklahoma Inc., started a ladies-only afterschool chess club, which she hopes will create a comfortable space for girls to learn and practice chess together, supporting and fostering each other’s skills. Chess has shown to have numerous behavioral benefits: including confidence, sportsmanship and the ability to plan ahead. “It costs almost nothing and breaks down barriers between genders, ages and ethnicities,” Rutledge told the Daily Oklahoman.
The Center for Pan Asian Community Services (CPACS) is helping students of migrant families learn English and math through a free afterschool tutoring program. Many of the kids’ parents work, or they have trouble helping with homework due to a language barrier. The afterschool program gives the children a safe and productive place to develop their academic abilities and leadership skills while their parents are at work. “We strive to create a healthy life for this community’s children, improve their academic levels and mold young people who are more responsible,” CPACS member Ricardo Broce told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The organization also offers classes for parents to learn how to support their children academically.