Herb Jones is the vice president of external affairs at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. Herb oversees NCMEC’s community outreach and prevention education programs as well as its branch offices in New York, Florida and Texas. Under Herb’s leadership, the organization has reached thousands of communities and millions of children with safety messages from awareness campaigns and programs like NetSmartz Workshop, Take 25 and the Campaign Against Sexual Exploitation.
Childhood is full of rewards and potential risks. As babies become toddlers, they are more prone to bumps, bruises, falls and distractions. As children become increasingly more independent, the hours before and after school can be some of the most dangerous, with the hours between 2 and 7 p.m. being the most critical.
Fortunately, the potential risks children face can be lessened when adults discuss important safety concepts. Afterschool programs are a great tool to help keep children safer by preventing risky behaviors and teaching them safety skills. Just minutes of prevention can make a huge impact in the life of a child. To help educate communities on these risks and ways to better protect the children in their lives, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) created the Take 25 campaign.
Take 25 is a grassroots safety initiative created in honor of National Missing Children’s Day. Annually honored on May 25, this day serves as a reminder to the nation to make child safety a national priority. The Take 25 Campaign encourages child care providers, social service agencies, law enforcement, educators, parents and other trusted adults to take 25 minutes out of the day to talk to children about ways to be safer. With a focus on prevention, Take 25 provides FREE bilingual resources including conversation starters, child ID kits, safety tips and lessons that inspire an ongoing dialogue with children about safety.
Nora Hall is a fellow at the U.S. Soccer Foundation. The U.S. Soccer Foundation is a recognized leader in sports-based youth development programs for children in underserved, urban communities. Proven to deliver positive health and social outcomes, the Foundation’s affordable initiatives offer safe environments in which both boys and girls thrive.
Sports have long played an important role in the world of afterschool programming, and with good reason—sports can provide unique opportunities for physical activity, mentorship and continued learning. Research shows that children who participate in organized sports are more likely to do well in school and less likely to be overweight or depressed. Unfortunately, many kids are excluded from afterschool sports programming due to cost and limited access to playing facilities. As a sports-based youth development organization, the U.S. Soccer Foundation is using soccer as a vehicle for social change and is working to create these opportunities for kids who would otherwise be excluded.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. In 1980, 7 percent of children aged 6-11 and 5 percent of children aged 12-19 were considered obese. By 2008, nearly 20 percent of children in both age categories were considered obese, with a large number of these children coming from urban, under-resourced communities.
Soccer for Success, the Foundation’s free soccer-based afterschool program, is working to reverse this trend by providing kids with a fun and engaging curriculum that blends physical activity with nutrition education. We partner with community-based organizations across the country to operate program sites at local schools and youth centers. By the end of the 2012-2013 program year, the Foundation will serve approximately 16,000 children in 20 different cities by providing afterschool programming three days a week.
By Jen Rinehart
Some of the strongest champions for afterschool are city and town leaders. Whether they approach afterschool from the lens of keeping kids safe; helping working families continue to work; or supporting students’ learning, health and wellness, city leaders are often quick to see the value of afterschool programs in their communities.
Just in the first few months of 2013, city leaders’ enthusiasm for afterschool has been evident at several afterschool-related events. Starting off with St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s remarks at the release of the Expanding Minds and Opportunities Compendium in early February, where he spoke about how afterschool has been a key issue for him as mayor. Mayor Coleman and several other mayors, including Afterschool Alliance board members Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price co-authored an article for the Expanding Minds and Opportunities Compendium in which they said:
“Time and time again, we have seen how a high-quality afterschool program can change a young person’s life and how such programs can have a positive ripple effect on families and neighborhoods.”
Fortunately, The Wallace Foundation recognizes the important role that mayors and city leaders play in supporting quality afterschool and has been investing in city systems for years. On Feb. 21 and 22, nearly 400 leaders from 57 cities came together in Baltimore to discuss how to better coordinate efforts to support the availability of high-quality afterschool programs. The Better Together: Building Local Systems to Improve After-School Conference focused on the role of afterschool systems, reaching youth most in need, financing afterschool systems and using data to drive continuous improvement. A summary of the event and links to related resources are now available courtesy of the Collaborative for Building After-School Systems, a co-sponsor of the convening.
On March 14, Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor Shan Tsutsui announced a plan to develop a new statewide initiative to enhance the learning experience of intermediate and middle school students during the afterschool hours. According to the lieutenant governor’s office, the Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge will provide a comprehensive social and educational foundation that will enrich the lives of intermediate/middle school students throughout Hawaii through a broad base of programs and activities, outside of regular instructional hours. The program seeks to include academic enrichment, arts and culture, and sports and will be designed to help prepare students for high school, college, the workforce and their communities.
The new initiative addresses the need to keep young people safe and engaged during the hours immediately following school. Afterschool programs are shown to increase or improve school attendance, behavior and coursework—all key indicators in whether a middle school student will graduate. Furthermore, studies show that crimes committed by or against juveniles occur with greater frequency on schools days and roughly between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m.
The Hawaii Intermediate/Middle School Challenge was inspired by After-School All-Stars Hawaii, a comprehensive, high quality afterschool program for middle school students that provides free, engaging afterschool programming that helps young people succeed in school and in life. The program serves middle school youth ages 12-15 during the afterschool hours of 3 to 6 p.m. at eight middle schools on Oahu. Students from After-School All-Stars joined the lieutenant governor for the announcement.
Recently, I posted a blog highlighting the new and exciting ways libraries are engaging kids in the out-of-school hours, as well as the research in Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success—the extraordinary compendium released last month—that shows the positive impact libraries have on a student’s academic achievement and on their surrounding community.
In my previous blog I referenced a post by Marsha Semmel, IMLS director of strategic partnerships, who wrote, “Quality learning in out-of-school settings, which include libraries and museums, makes a proven difference in academic achievement, work, and life.” This week, I want to focus on the second institution included in her quote: museums.
The compendium highlights the role of informal learning environments, such as museums, in helping youth develop critical thinking skills and better understand the world’s inner workings through hands-on, experiential learning in the chapter "Museums as 21st Century Partners: Empowering Extraordinary ‘iGeneration’ Learning Through Afterschool and Intergenerational Family Learning Programs.” Learning Labs, a project supported by IMLS and the MacArthur Foundation, is a perfect example of the ability of museums to create spaces where youth help design activities, drive projects and shape their environment based on their interests. Kids are able to tinker with technology, explore new interests, and collaborate with peers and mentors as they hone their skills in a variety of mediums—such as graphic design, creative writing and video editing.
By Jen Rinehart
In my 10 years with the Afterschool Alliance, there hadn't really been any conferences that dealt specifically with how libraries are providing expanded learning opportunities for kids after school—but that seems to be changing. Within the first six weeks of 2013, I had the opportunity to participate in two convenings comprised largely of public library staff members who are working to provide expanded learning opportunities for youth after school and during the summer months.
The first was a Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) convening focused on how libraries can better serve teens. The Teens and Libraries Summit brought together individuals from the fields of education, technology, librarianship, youth development, research, afterschool and more to discuss the important role that libraries can play in meeting the needs of youth.
It was a really interesting discussion and the youth who participated were fantastic advocates for the importance of libraries. I left with a strong sense of the important role that librarians play in the lives of teens and how much the youth value having access to library spaces and mentors.
The second convening was hosted by the Urban Libraries Council and the Association for Science and Technology Centers and brought together representatives from 30 Learning Labs located in libraries and museums across the country. These labs are using the inspiration of the YOUmedia model at the Harold Washington Library Center of the Chicago Public Library to engage young people in learning, socializing and participating civically through the use of digital technologies—building on their interests and connecting them to valuable resources and peers. The Learning Labs are designed to help young people become makers and creators of content, rather than just consumers of it.
For those interested in understanding how to create teen tech spaces like the Learning Labs within local libraries or afterschool programs, I would highly recommend browsing the YOUmedia online toolkit. It offers very practical resources, such as sample floor plans, curriculum and programming ideas, staffing requirements, and estimated budgets.
At both of these convenings, I was especially encouraged to hear so many participants speak with enthusiasm about strengthening connections between public libraries and afterschool and summer programs. I think the time is right to forge stronger relationships across these two valuable sectors that are helping to expand learning for children and youth in the hours after school.
The Afterschool Alliance has plans to help forge some of those connections this year and to highlight several of the promising library-based expanded learning programs that are currently serving youth. Stay tuned for future blog posts and additional resources on the topic, including an upcoming webinar on March 12 titled, The New Normal: Public Libraries as Partners in 21st Century Learning.
|Photo from: YOUMedia at the Chicago Public Library.|
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently posted a blog about the exciting release of Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success. I was also able to attend the compendium’s release event at the National Press Club, which celebrated the milestone of amassing an immense body of research, best practices and commentaries that will be an invaluable and powerful resource to the afterschool field.
The blog, written by Marsha Semmel, director of strategic partnerships, perfectly summed up the gravity of the event, declaring, “…the power and importance of out-of-school learning is no longer a peripheral idea. Quality learning in out-of-school settings, which include libraries and museums, makes a proven difference in academic achievement, work, and life.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Libraries and museums play a significant role in the afterschool world, creating spaces where youth have the opportunity to discover who they are, explore their interests and engage in learning experiences that are relevant to, and meaningful in, their everyday lives. A chapter in the compendium, School and Public Libraries: Enriching Student Learning and Empowering Student Voices Through Expanded Learning Opportunities, not only digs into the research demonstrating the academic benefits for children who have greater access to books and reading opportunities and the positive impact of libraries on their communities, but gives a few examples of libraries providing expanded learning time opportunities.