Yesterday at a Miami-area afterschool program, first lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America announced that two more of the largest afterschool program providers have committed to create more healthful environments for five million kids in their programs through adoption of the Healthy Eating and Physical Activity (HEPA) standards.
Over the next five years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) have committed to encouraging a combined 5,400 sites and clubs nationwide to adopt strong standards for nutrition and physical activity.
In remarks at the event, the first lady applauded the announcement, “Between today’s announcement and our work to serve better food and get more activity into our schools, we’re now ensuring that more and more of our kids will be staying healthy throughout the entire arc of their day.” She added, students “… are getting active through the day, whether that’s during recess, or PE class, or during an exercise break between lessons. And when the school day ends, they’ll head to an afterschool program like this one, and they’ll get even more nutritious food and even more opportunities to get active.”
We loved the message of this recent GE ad, “Childlike Imagination.” Already, it has more than 1.2 million views on YouTube. Earlier this month we blogged about the importance of mentors for inspiring girls and other populations underrepresented in STEM. Working moms in STEM surely inspire their own daughters, and we hope they seek opportunities to inspire more girls in their community!
As afterschool professionals, we understand the importance of raising awareness of our programs and afterschool in general. With local and state budgets including sharp cuts to education and youth development programs and major federal policy challenges threatening the integrity of afterschool programs, advocacy is more important than ever. While we can speak about the work afterschool programs do to provide children with opportunities to participate in hands-on, interactive learning, it’s important to include other voices in our advocacy efforts.
This year, through the generous support of the Robert Bowne Foundation, the Afterschool Alliance is hosting a series of webinars on how we can engage parents, students and communities in advocacy. Last Tuesday, we held our first webinar in this occasional series. The first installment focused on engaging parents in afterschool advocacy. Esther Grant-Walker, director of School Age and Family Engagement Services at the Isaacs Center Afterschool Program in New York City, shared how she engages parents and prepares them to be effective afterschool advocates through hands-on training and other initiatives. Student engagement was the focus of our second webinar on Feb. 18. Alberto Cruz, Senior Director of Youth and Family at the YMCA of Greater New York, along with Patrick Pinchinat and Marlena Starace of the Queens Community House discussed how they involve students in advocating for afterschool.
Using social media to advocate will be the subject of the final webinar of this series on March 27. Deepmalya Ghosh, Director of Youth Development at the Child Center of New York, Inc. will share how he engages the public in afterschool advocacy through social media. Visit our webinars page to register.
On Valentine’s Day, a number of working moms sent an open-letter Valentine to their afterschool programs, thanking them for keeping their kids safe after school, inspiring them to learn, and providing an engaging and academically enriching learning environment. Their heartfelt letters echo what polls and research have shown for years—afterschool programs are providing the essential support working families need.
Our 2011 issue brief “Afterschool and Working Families in the Wake of the Great Recession” not only explores the variety of ways afterschool programs are helping kids learn and grow, but discusses the peace of mind they bring to parents while they are at work. For example, a study by Catalyst and Brandeis University found that as many as 2.5 million parents are overly stressed by what their children are doing after school. One aspect that leads to an even higher risk for stress is when their children are unsupervised during the hours after school. Afterschool programs give working parents the reassurance they need that their children are in a safe and supportive environment during the gap in time between when the school day ends and when they get home from work. A survey last fall of working parents in New York reported that 95 percent said that they rely on child care and afterschool programs to keep their jobs.
By Jodi Grant
Valentine’s Day is all about showing the people you love how much they mean to you. It’s about expressing how you feel to those who make your life richer and more meaningful.
This year, moms around the country are sending Valentines to their afterschool programs.
It’s no wonder that afterschool programs hold a special place in the hearts of many busy parents. As a mom myself, I know how important it is to be sure that when they are not with me, my children are safe, supervised, learning and engaged. Afterschool programs do all that—they provide a space for children to expand their horizons, learn new skills, have new experiences, and explore their potential—all in a safe environment with adults who care about their success in school and in life. For moms in the workforce in particular, they are a life-saver.
Every day at the Afterschool Alliance, we hear from mothers who tell us how important afterschool programs are to them. They are impressed with the dedication and commitment of afterschool staff and volunteers, who work so hard to create opportunities for their kids to explore their interests. They say their children enjoy the programs, talk about what they learned there, and participate in exciting activities – from judo to robotics to dance to creative writing.
Patrick Riccards, co-host of the #CommonCore radio podcast on BAM Radio Network, described the episode that included our own Vice President of Policy and Research Jen Rinehart as a “breath of fresh air.” Riccards was impressed that the interview—which also included Jennifer Davis, co-founder and president of the National Center on Time & Learning—focused on learning, rather than testing. He also pointed out the value of conversations centered on what learning means for students, and how can we best ensure that our students succeed not just under the Common Core, but in school, career and life.
Jen spoke about the integral role afterschool programs can play in supporting students and teachers around the Common Core State Standards:
“ We know that afterschool programs are working to provide very engaging learning environments for kids where they have the opportunities to be active learners, to collaborate and communicate with peers in a low-stakes type of setting where they can feel free to try things out and not be concerned about failing…and that sort of environment aligns very nicely with the habits of mind that underpin the Common Core—the kind of thinking skills that you want kids to develop to be able to succeed under the Common Core.”
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama called for preschool programs for every 4-year-old—an idea that 30 states are funding. Providing early education for youngsters who haven’t started school is an idea whose time has come. So is supporting after-school programs for elementary school students. Researcher Deborah Vandell explains why.
Vandell, founding dean of the School of Education at the University of California-Irvine, is a distinguished education researcher focusing on issues of P-20 education and longitudinal studies of development.
What was the best Super Bowl ad? That’s not really the point, if you ask afterschool teens who participate in The LAMP’s (Learning About Multimedia Project) media literacy program. They might ask back what those ads reveal about us and our culture, and how ads might be manipulating viewers.
At the Break the Super Bowl event last Sunday night, teens from the McBurney YMCA remixed and deconstructed Super Bowl commercials as they aired, ultimately creating original works of video criticism. The “broken ad” pieces were created with a budget of $0, on a regular laptop computer, in less time than half a football game. Yet they raised important questions about the marketing techniques we are exposed to every day.