VIEWPOINT: Elementary school, neighborhood, YMCA partnering to provide equity at school and home
Parents, teachers, and youth workers all agree on the importance of quality afterschool programs. However, with school districts and nonprofits having limited resources to provide these programs, partnerships are often the answer to implementing quality out-of-school time programming throughout the school year and during summer months.
Luckily for the students living at Maple Pond Homes in Maplewood, the YMCA, District 622, and MBG Property Management have teamed up to ensure that they have great opportunities year-round.
A survey of parents completed by the Afterschool Alliance found that: "Cost and lack of a safe way for their children to get to and come home from after school programs are among the barriers that low-income households, African American families and Hispanic families report keep them from enrolling their children in an afterschool program."
This incredible collaboration eliminates each of these barriers for families and strives to eliminate the opportunity gap for these students.
Each school day starts with students meeting two YMCA team members in the lobby of their apartment complex. YMCA team members ensure that all students are present, have their homework, and are dressed properly for the walk to school.
The group walks to school together and begin the day with a healthy breakfast provided at no cost to the families.
During the school day, YMCA team members provide recreational activities before school and during recess.
These structured times of active play have allowed students to stay healthy, utilize their energy, and avoid conflicts that were taking place during this time.
YMCA team members also support classroom teachers, provide small group tutoring, and address social and emotional challenges that students are facing.
As the school day ends, YMCA team members walk the students back to Maple Pond Homes and provide afterschool programming until 6 p.m. each day. This time includes homework help, academic challenges, art, science, physical activity and more.
Although this partnership has existed for four years, this year a focus on healthy living has created new opportunities for participants.
Each day a student participates in at least 30 minutes of physical activity through a variety of exciting games and activities. New this year is a daily yoga class where students are learning calming strategies, breathing techniques, and full body stretches.
Students are also receiving at least 30 minutes of nutrition education each week, trying new healthy foods, and passing on this knowledge to their families.
People often say that it takes a village to raise a child. Through this partnership we are proud to bridge the gap between school and home, provide a safe place for young people after school, and work each day to eliminate the opportunity gap for these amazing students.
Want to see this partnership in action? Watch a short video at youtube.com/watch?v=akqZXY3noCw.
Christine Osorio is the superintendent of the North St. Paul-Oakdale-Maplewood school district.