By Mark Francis Wallace, Jr., Founder/CEO of RealPlay Rec
Member of the GCOST Collaborative
Today’s school children confront not only the inherent difficulty of growing up, they also face increasingly challenging environments, a lower tolerance for physical acting out, and the pervasive threat of violence. Poverty and income inequality create onerous emotional conditions for many children. As schools focus more intensively on preparing students with the academic skills necessary for success in the information age, attention is increasingly turning to the experiences of children and youth in their out-of-school time. After school, weekend, and summer programs offer many opportunities to complement and enhance the academic learning that takes place in school. These programs are promising strategies for engaging children and youth in a variety of positive social, recreational, and academic activities.
It is extremely important to keep our children and youth safe during afterschool hours. National studies consistently reveal key data points about relationships between limited after school supervision and the following: teen pregnancy rates, violence, school attendance, risk of obesity, and high school dropout rates. In the hours after the school bell rings, the prime time for juvenile crime begins. The peak hours for such crime are from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm. It is during these hours when youth are most likely to become victims of crime, have automobile accidents, and/or participate in substance use (e.g., doing drugs, smoking cigarettes, and drinking alcohol).
A decade of research, evaluations, and reviews of literature provide powerful evidence that after school programs make a difference in the lives of youth who attend them. Afterschool programs improve the following: academic performance, positive social development, and healthy lifestyle choices. Many programs prevent risky behaviors. Participation in various structured out-of-school time activities has been shown to have the greatest impact and most positive effect on those youth who are most at-risk during the peak hours for crime. Research suggests that out-of-school time programs can benefit youth socially, emotionally and academically; however, those who participate more frequently and for longer periods of time are most likely to benefit.
After school programs basically create a sense of belonging and provide safety and supervision for their participants. In addition, they can provide academic support (e.g., helping with homework) and support for the development of social skills. Some of the most successful programs make learning fun by providing students with chances to experience new activities in arts, culture, life skills, and recreation. Research states that high quality after school programs can lead to positive outcomes for children and youth, as well as for families, communities, and schools.
Based on the evidence, high quality expanded learning programs do the following:
- Foster positive relationships between program participants and staff
- Build positive relationships among program participants
- Offer a blend of academic and development skill-building activities
- Promote high levels of engagement
- Maintain an orientation toward mastery of knowledge and skills
- Provide appropriate levels of structure as well as opportunities for autonomy and choice
(Eccles & Gootman, 2001).
Children from high-risk backgrounds have the most to gain from after-school programs in terms of educational opportunity; however, they have the least access to after-school programs. Research findings also indicate three factors that improve the educational benefits of after school programs. (1) A positive emotional climate devoid of harsh, punitive, controlling adult supervision should increase attendance. Programs cannot benefit children who do not attend or resist participation. (2) The changing needs and interests of older elementary school children need to be considered in programming. (3) Experts caution that the goal of improving children's school performance will not necessarily be attained by extending the school day with traditional classroom lessons and routines.
In conclusion, research confirms that providing quality after school programs for our most at-risk children can have an important impact on their lives. Quality programs engage children by giving them activity choices, engaging them in enrichment activities, and supporting socialization with peers. These programs will pay academic dividends that can lead to post high school success. Strong partnerships with schools, families, and the community are critical to sustaining positive outcomes from after school programs. Those of us who are members of the Georgetown County Out of School Time (GCOST) Collaborative realize the importance of quality after school programs for the children and youth in Georgetown County. Our vision is that every school-aged child in Georgetown County will have access to quality out-of-schooltime programs and services, promoting positive youth development and the prevention of at-risk behaviors.
Auger, A., Pierce, K. M., & Vandell, D. L. (2013). Participation in out-of-school settings and
student academic and behavioral outcomes. Manuscript in preparation
Eccles, J., & Gootman, J.A. (Eds.) (2002). Community programs to promote youth development,
Washington DC: National Academic Press
Shernoff, D. J., & Vandell, D. L. (2008). Youth engagement and quality of experience in
afterschool programs. Afterschool Matters, Occasional Papers Series, (9), 1–11
Vandell, D. L., Pierce, K. M., & Dadisman, K. (2005). Out-of-school settings as a developmental
context for children and youth. In R. V. Kail (Ed.), Advances in child development and
behavior (Vol. 33, pp. 43–77). New York, NY: Academic
“We have a powerful potential in our youth, and we must have the courage to change old ideas and practices so that we may direct their power toward good ends.” Mary McLeod Bethune
The power of a young mind is molded by a connection with resources, proper healthcare, and education. The communities in which our children thrive are forever evolving. We, as members of a collaboration of organizations and community partners in Georgetown County, must be willing to improve that which we deem reliable and secure to better support the clients that we serve.
Georgetown County South Carolina is approximately 814 square miles of land that includes coastal and inland communities. 21% of the population within this community lives below the Federal Poverty line. 19.8% of the 60,572 residents within Georgetown County are under the age of 18 years old. Why is this relevant when focusing on better serving the youth within our community?
In order for an area to prosper, you must first access the economically challenged population, your poverty stricken adults and children under the age of 18 years. It is important that we as partners of the Georgetown County community readily provide resources for this at-risk clientele, ensuring that proper health and education resources are available to promote and implement change. Being an outreach worker for Nurse-Family Partnership, this is a vision that guides my service to the community. Children are healthy. Families thrive. Communities prosper. Cycles are broken.
Nurse-Family Partnership is just one of the many amazing resources available in Georgetown County. Our focus with this program is to support first time pregnant Medicaid eligible moms by providing them with one-on-one support from a BSN Certified nurse. This nurse works with them in their homes from early in their pregnancy until their child is two years old. This service facilitates the proper education, care, and connection necessary to ensure a healthy thriving child, mother and family.
One fifth of Georgetown County is populated by residents under the age of 19 years old. 6,100 residents have less than a high school diploma, and 32 women between the ages of 15 and 19 gave birth in 2016. By supporting programs such as Nurse-Family Partnership, a member of the Health Care Collaborative for Children and Youth (HCCCY) of Georgetown County, you are promoting change within not only the audience served, but also the community as a whole.
HCCCY, positively impacting the lives of youth, one collaborative partner at a time….
Community Outreach Worker
The Wallace Foundation states, “[S]ummer learning programs have the potential to help children and youth improve their academic and other outcomes. This is especially true for children from low-income families who might not have access to educational resources throughout the summer months and for low-achieving students who need additional time to master academic content. However, summer learning programs are often an afterthought of school districts or not offered at all, especially in restrictive funding environments.”
We are very fortunate to live in a community in which our school district, local nonprofit organizations and our community supporters see the value in summer learning opportunities. Many of our Georgetown County Out of School Time (GCOST) Collaborative organizations have the privilege of offering summer learning programs to the students they serve during the school year.
Carolina Human Reinvestment Success
One such program is Carolina Human Reinvestment (CHR), located on Brick Chimney Road, in Georgetown. Allyson Banta, CHR’s Program Director wrote, “We began the summer with our Amachi Mentoring Bike Club Kick off event at the Georgetown Housing Authority. Momentum Bike Club of Greenville joined us for four days of cycling, mentoring, and fellowship. This was definitely one of the highlights of our summer. The Georgetown County Police Department donated over twenty bikes to help get our bike club started! Not to mention, Captain Waites and several other officers came out to join us as well. We have also cycled along the Waccamaw Neck Bike Trail! Our bike club and tennis clinic (at Stables Tennis Center) continued every Friday throughout the entire summer.
“We also partnered with Beck Recreation Center for our Summer Enrichment Program, which was valuable time spent with the youth. We had special guests and business leaders from the community join us for yoga sessions and self-‐confidence workshops, while also working on academic skills and summer reading!”
Teach My People Success
Across the bridges in Pawleys Island, Teach My People (TMP) also had a successful summer program. We had an average daily attendance of 70 students from first grade through senior year of high school.
Each morning students worked for two hours on math, reading and science. In addition, our students participated daily in 30-‐minutes of individualized swim classes, with free swim in the afternoon.
This summer TMP was able to strengthen two existing partnerships: The “Lowcountry Food Bank’s Summer Feeding Program” and the Georgetown County School District. The Food Bank provided us with a nutritious, fresh and home cooked meals (with the help of TMP kitchen volunteers) for breakfast and lunch. The Georgetown County School District extended their summer learning opportunities by providing training and curriculum for the TMP instructors.
We Are Not Done Yet
Even though it is starting to get chilly, vacationers are gone and our students are back at school, our organizations are not done with the summer. This past month GCOST Collaborative members have partnered with the Georgetown County School District to form the “Summer Slide Collaborative.” This group plans to explore the collective impact of our summer programs to decrease the effects of “summer slide” (i.e., the loss of academic achievement levels during the summer). We will be meeting with the school district over the next few months to decide what data to collect, what factors seem to most strongly affect summer learning, and what curricula might be useful in our summer programs. While this past summer was great, we are looking for an even brighter educational experience next summer for our students.
Teach My People
It has been proven that kids who eat healthier and move more perform better in school. Studies show that healthy kids get better grades, attend school more often and behave better in class. We now know that making time for physical activity and nutrition in school is not a break from academics; it’s an investment in higher academic performance.
Ninety-five percent of school-aged kids and teens attend school. Aside from home, it’s the place where kids spend most of their time. Experts recommend that kids get 60 minutes of physical activity every day. Working these minutes into the school day not only supports a child’s overall health but also helps teachers keep students focused and alert in the classroom.
Because children spend so much time at school, schools have a unique opportunity to help children become more healthy and active. Policies that support daily physical education and regular activity breaks during the school day can help increase physical activity, improve academic performance and improve classroom behavior among students. Kids consume up to 50% of their daily calories and nutrients at school.
The mission of the Georgetown County School District for School Food Service and Nutrition Program is to prepare high quality, nutritious, appealing food in a clean and pleasant environment served by food service professionals who care about the health and welfare of children. The Nutrition department at GCSD is made up of a team of food and nutrition professionals that are dedicated to student’s health, well-being and their ability to learn.
I was delighted to see on the GCSD website under their tab What’s for Lunch there are two tabs under Nutrition Education. One is titled Nutrition and one is titled Nutrition and Fitness. The Nutrition tab promotes, Nutrition is for Everyone and has nutrition guides for students, teachers and families. The Nutrition and Fitness tab gives ways to promote a healthy lifestyle and promotes Let’s Move - America’s movement to raise a healthier generation of kids.
Way to go Georgetown County Schools for doing your part to support healthy habits that will last a lifetime!
Children’s Recovery Center
Did you know that Boeing is more than a company that builds amazing airplanes? This company is also making a big difference in South Carolina and their efforts in Georgetown County are a great example. Ray Funnye, Executive Director of the Village Group, and board member Eileen Fleming-Patonay, Workforce Advisor for the Waccamaw Region, SC Department of Commerce, continue to lead the way to bring the gifts of this generous world-renowned company to our county.
On June 30, 2016, the Village Group Summer Academy hosted a luncheon for its partners that included a presentation by Boeing’s Strategy and Integration Education Relations Specialist, Frank Hatten. We learned about the history of the Boeing Company, celebrating their 100-year anniversary this year, and we learned about the amazing 787 Dreamliner that is being built only in North Charleston, South Carolina. We also learned about several Boeing programs including the following:
- Employee Community Fund – The Boeing Employees Community Fund is the largest employee-managed fund in the world. Boeing recognizes the importance of teammates' personal contributions to nonprofit organizations, and the company matches those financial donation and volunteer hours - up to $6,000 per year - to eligible organizations.
- Education Programs – Boeing is committed to helping children and youth (pre-k-12) achieve their potential through educational enrichment and support programs that promote academic success, independence and economic sustainability. They also have a special commitment to “early learning." http://www.boeing.com/principles/education.page
- Dreamlearners Program - This program has reached nearly 150,000 students throughout South Carolina since 2012. Its purpose is to inspire the next generation to build the airplanes of the future. https://weareboeingsc.com/dreamlearners-program/
Boeing has an outstanding vision for South Carolina and for each community it touches. Their location in North Charleston is commuting distance from our county and members of the Boeing team live here. The company offers employment opportunities for youth with high school diplomas, and they provide access to advancement within the company for those committed to excellence. Boeing wants employees who not only have skills and abilities; they want employees who exhibit excellent “soft skills.”
Dr. Randy Dozier, Superintendent of Georgetown County School District, and members of his staff attended this important meeting. He expressed a strong commitment to summer programs, like the Village Group Summer Academy, and recognized their importance in helping to prepare students for school and work.
To top it off we had a delicious lunch of shrimp and grits and fruit. What a wonderful event!
Sheryn Waterman, Ph.D.