October 24 is Lights On Afterschool, a nationwide celebration that raises awareness about the importance of afterschool programs in our communities.
In the Monadnock region, a newly formed coalition of afterschool program is doing exciting things this year, and we’re honored to offer our support.
The Monadnock Region Afterschool Collective (MRAC) is made up of seven programs that offer afterschool enrichment opportunities for children. These programs are ACCESS Winchester Afterschool Program; Hindsdale Afterschool Program; Keene Family YMCA School’s Out Program (plus the Chesterfield site); Project KEEP (with sites at Symonds, Fuller and Franklin schools in Keene); Project Edventure Marlborough Afterschool; ACES 93 Afterschool Program (with sites at Mt. Caesar and Cutler schools in Swanzey, Troy and Emerson Elementary in Fitzwilliam); and Hillsboro-Deering Before and Afterschool.
MUW has awarded the collective $150,000 this year, with another $150,000 slated for 2020.
Some of the money has allowed the programs to offer field trips and other enrichment opportunities for students. This year, Project KEEP has used some of the money to bus students to MoCo Arts dress rehearsal performances and train teachers to teach yoga in the classroom.
But the biggest chunk of the money has gone toward much-needed professional development for staff. The goal of the collective is to support the learning and growth of children in their care by reducing non-appropriate behaviors.
The programs have purchased a professional development tool called AIM (which stands for Accept, Identify, Move). This is a curriculum for social emotional development in school-age children.
“It’s about mindfulness and having kids develop self-confidence and emotional control, and helping them think through their values,” said Janice Barry, director of Keene Community Education, which runs Project KEEP.
The curriculum provides discussion ideas, scripts and experiential activities that teachers can use with students in different scenarios to help students do things like practice empathy, consider different perspectives and resolve conflicts.
Afterschool programs have always been a place for this kind of learning, Barry said, because children have more time to “learn through play” than they do during the school day. But the curriculum is giving teachers a more deliberate way of teaching social-emotional skills, she said.
The programs are also working with graduate students from Antioch University, who are providing coaching and on-the-spot feedback regarding how to work with specific behavior, as well as with a professional behavioral consultant.
Funding is also allowing programs to have more family events and offer parent training opportunities.
Barry said her goal in joining MRAC was to strengthen the Project KEEP program, and she believes they have already made great strides toward that objective.
MUW supports the work of MRAC and other collectives focused on children, education and financial stability, as well as individual programs working in those areas. Help us raise our annual goal of $1.937 million by December 31 so we can continue to support the great work happening in our community. Give today by clicking here.
Pictured: Children participate in a water slide activity at a Project KEEP afterschool site.