Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What is afterschool programming all about?

By Jennifer Kelly, After School Program Manager

It’s 3:00 and school is out. So, where do kids go while their families are still working? Here’s the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How on our afterschool programs.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, in Rhode Island, 17% of children living in communities of concentrated poverty were alone and unsupervised between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m.. On average, these same children were spending an average of seven hours per week unsupervised.

Why do we need afterschool programs? According to the Afterschool Alliance, afterschool hours, from 3:00 - 6:00 p.m., is the peak time for children to become involved with crimes and experiment with drugs & alcohol. Parents agree that afterschool programs help keep kids safe. Also, parents in communities of concentrated poverty believe afterschool programs improve students’ behavior, school attendance and performance in school.

What is Save The Bay doing about it? We are getting kids excited about science and Narragansett Bay! But we do even more than that. In addition to just teaching science, we teach them marine science while incorporating technology, engineering, and math, typically referred to as STEM. Our program offers high-quality, hands on STEM enrichment. While one afterschool group may be learning about the fascinating animals that live in the bay, another group may be designing and building their own aquarium and life support system to run in their school. Kids in our program are learning essential life skills that we hope they will carry on with them into the future. Elisa Almonte, Director of Beyond School Programs at UCAP, states, ”The Save The Bay afterschool collaboration provides my students with quality programming. Lessons are intentional and engaging and staff members are always warm and excited about working with youth.”

High quality programs, like Save The Bay’s, extend the opportunity for children to continue to learn after school and helps them achieve in their classroom. All of our programs are aligned with state science standards so it will expand upon what students are already learning in their classrooms during the school day. According to the Afterschool Alliance, when students participate in STEM programs, 80% have shown an interest in continuing STEM learning. It is projected that STEM jobs will be in higher demand in the future.

During the 2015-2016 school year, 77% of our afterschool programs took place in communities of concentrated poverty. We partnered with community groups and schools in Providence, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Central Falls, Newport, Middletown, Narragansett and North Providence. Many of our programs take place at their sites, but often times, students are walking with us to a local river or waterway to have an in-depth look at its water quality and explore for wildlife and vegetation. We can also host programs on one of our education boats, at our aquarium, or along a coastal shoreline for an on-the-bay experience.

When will Save The Bay’s afterschool program make a difference in your or your child’s life? We have partnered with Connecting for Children and Families in Woonsocket for 7 years. Charlotte Boudreau, Director of Education & School Linked Services for Connecting for Children & Families states,
“The partnership has brought extraordinary experience for the Woonsocket students we serve because of the quality programming Save the Bay provides us at Connecting for Children & Families. Many students are distractible during the school day, but because of the hands on experiential activities that Save the Bay provides, they are totally engaged in everything they do and learn and retain everything they are taught. While exploring the Blackstone River, the parks and the areas around their school, students also interact with the environment in their community. Because of their experiences with Save the Bay the students’ academic performance and behavior continues to improve throughout the school year.”

How does Save The Bay’s afterschool program impact the lives of the people we serve? When asked, "What does Save the Bay's Afterschool mean to you?", a first grade student from Woonsocket said "It means fun! I like to look at and touch the animals."

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