New York, NY 10027, USA
Phone: +1 212-864-2370
In the recent past, there has been increased participation in after-school programs. Sometimes referred to as Out of School Time (OST), they serve children and young people of all ages by encompassing a variety of crucial areas. They include arts, sports, recreation, youth development, and mentoring. As noted by Armstrong and Schmidt (2013), the activities that children engage outside the school hours have a huge impact on their development thus underscoring the significance of quality afterschool initiatives in a community. Following this, I visited The Apple Green Center which is an institution that controls afterschool programs and summer camps for Harlem community. While at Apple Green Center, I interviewed the Director to get insights into how the program operates.
The interview results provided insights into the strengths and weaknesses of the institution and the programs. Specifically, I was surprised by the competency and qualification of the staff. Typically, afterschool programs target students. Hence it is expected that majority of the staff would have a background in teaching, children administration or education. However, the majority of the staff were local parents who had volunteered to work without pay. The director informed me that he opted to work with parents with no background in education since he could not hire professionals. Although he worked with unqualified staff, he was aware that it could affect the objective of the program negatively. As a result, he had hired consultants on a part-time basis who assessed the program every two months and gave recommendations.
Despite the funding problems, the institution had adopted effective measures to promote youth development and academic excellence for the participants. In particular, the program had developed the best sporting and recreational facilities in the region. They include state of the art baseball field and equipment, football equipment, and soccer. It is commendable how the management had partnered with the federal sporting authorities to secure funding and expertise. In a community characterized by street gangs, drug dealings, and violence, Apple Green Center played a key role in keeping the youth away from such evils and helping them focus on their academics.
The most commendable and effective initiative I noted was provision for job opportunities for teenagers and young adults. Lack of employment and poverty are the main factors that push the youth to join street gangs. With this in mind, the facility understood that promoting academic excellence was not sufficient to curb the vices in the community. There was the need to create a balance between school and home. Thus, provision of job opportunities was aimed at encouraging the young adults to engage in activities that contribute positively to the community. For the teenagers aged between 12 and 16 years, there were several voluntary activities and employment opportunities for those with financial problems. Overall, the facility was properly managed, but with the appropriate expertise and resources, more positive results could be realized to benefit the local community.
14200 Solomons Island Rd
MD 20688, USA
According to Todd et al., (2017), a museum-based program can help enhance the well-being and health of isolated older adults. To affirm the validity of this argument, I visited the Calvert Marine Museum. While there, I interviewed the officer in charge of Community and Social Programs to gain insights into how the initiative works. The interview results revealed that for a program to assist the older people adequately, the museum must be accessible as well as the places of engagement that facilitate social interaction.
One of the major problems facing the Calvert Marine Museum in its efforts to promote the well-being of the older people was misinformed perspectives. Many old and socially isolated people especially the non-museum and infrequent goers often feel physically intimidated and consider museums as places for the highly-educated only. To address this issue, this facility provided many experiences for the patients by designing a ten-week program, which is rare if non-existent in the sector. The considerations for place and duration, the role of the museum expert as a welcoming and friendly person, was critical to the program. Although relational processes happen in all groups, the officer informed me that teams that meet severally develop close relationships that can either help or hinder social interactions.
Although the program is designed for a group of isolated old people, the process of designing considers both the social engagement and individual journey factors. These factors are different for women and men. The officer noted how it is challenging for a socially isolated person who has had feelings of isolation for a long time to acclimate to a new group quickly. In this regard, the facilitators consider the individual experiences and the group experiences when planning for activities that entail discussion, observation, creative engagement, and participation. After analyzing the interview results, I realized that providing intense social experiences that are unique for a prolonged period, the facilitator, physical space, activities that entail unknown and interesting objects comprise the major elements of a museum-based program. The use of these elements helps in creating an individual journey that enhances emotions, expectations, health, and the relational processes of influencing and judging others.
Armstrong, L. J., & Schmidt, C. A. (2013). Great afterschool programs and spaces that wow!. St. Paul, MN : Redleaf Press
Todd, C., Camic, P. M., Lockyer, B., Thomson, L. J., & Chatterjee, H. J. (2017). Museum-based programs for socially isolated older adults: Understanding what works. Health & Place, 48, 47-55. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2017.08.005
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