Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lights on Afterschool

As many of you know, I've been working with one of the YWCA's afterschool programs in Brooklyn since 2009, teaching dance and mentoring kids in grades K-5 everyday, Monday-Friday, afterschool. These kids have become a part of my life in a major way, and the feeling is mutual- the dedicated staff at our program provides the kids with a structured environment and regular contact with adult role models who care about them, their development, and their success. In addition to homework help and an afterschool meal, we provide our students with drama, dance, visual art and recreational education. Our program is in high demand, and because we can only accommodate twenty children from each grade level, we have a pretty sizeable wait list for families who want their children in the program. Check out the Afterschool Alliance's New York City After 3p Report on why there is such a need for this type of programming. Another interesting report to note is Afterschool Programs: Making a Difference in America's Communities by Improving Academic Achievement, Keeping Kids Safe and Helping Working Families. Funding is one of the key reasons that we can't serve more kids, which is why I'm so appreciative of opportunities to spread the word about the work these programs do.  

On Thursday, October 21st, the Afterschool Alliance declared a national Lights On Afterschool Celebration to celebrate and raise awareness of the importance of afterschool programs. Our program decided to spend the afternoon sharing student art that was inspired by their experiences at the YWCA's afterschool program, and then watching a mini-documentary I created about our afterschool program. What a success! The art was stunning and hearing the kids talk about what afterschool program meant to them was truly heartwarming. Enjoy pictures from the celebration below, along with the video project I created!

A proud artist and her work!

5th grade boys scrambling to finish writing their "speeches"

4th grade can't wait to share their work!

5th grade anxiously awaiting their time on stage...

1st grade excitedly awaiting the older kids' presentations!

A 5th grader sharing his work... I loved this piece...

Another one of my 5th graders talking about her work- can you tell I'm proud?

One of our VERY talented 4th graders...

And last but not least- my video project! Obviously I'm not a pro, but I think the kids' awesomeness outweighs my sorry video editing skills...

Monday, October 11, 2010

Join us!

Join us on Sunday, 10/24 from 3-5p at the Preliminary Rewards Reception!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Block Institute's Brightest Star Awards!

Free on Sunday, October 24th from 3-5p? Then join myself, Miss Brooklyn 2009 contestant Diana Greene, Marina Montes- Miss Long Island USA, our own Miss NY- Claire Buffie and potentially a few other pageant pals as we celebrate the outstanding achievements of the semi-finalists in Block Institute's Brightest Star Awards! This is my second year of participation with this program, and I could not be more thrilled! Block Institute is an amazing organization in Brooklyn that serves adults and children with developmental disabilities. I was introduced to Block Institute when their Director of Special Projects and Nutrition Services, Todd Adelman, judged Miss Brooklyn 2009! I'm so honored to have since formed a strong and mutually beneficial partnership with them which includes implementing creative arts curriculum to their day programming and pre-school!

On 10/24, the 16 semi-finalists will become 10 finalists- one in each category of the competition. This year, I'm a preliminary judge and the mentor/ contestant liason! Since the competition is run similarly to a pageant, we'll be bringing in members of the pageant community to help coach and mentor the finalists for their self-presentation at the finals gala in January!

Check out my blogs from last year's Preliminary Awards and Finals Gala for more info!