Every morning from 9 am -12 pm, a group of about 20 students gets to experience fun activities while learning and growing with our YEP team at the Pottstown Integrated Wellness Complex.
Each day begins with Brain Smart Start activities. As social emotional learning trained facilitators, we recognize that it’s important to get our brains ready for the day. Sometimes we have cobwebs in our brains that we have to clear out so our brains can do the amazing things we want it to!
The program focuses on exercising and uniting together every single morning. Each day we share what the ‘Word of the Day’ is and discuss what it means to the students. This week our ‘Word of the Day’ included peace, justice, freedom, and dignity in line with YW3CA’s mission.
On Wednesday, the ‘Word of the Day’ was freedom. Our team asked the kids to close their eyes and think about these questions: When I say freedom, what pops into your mind? What does it mean to feel free? What freedoms do people not have that we take for granted?
Some of there answers included freedom of press, freedom of religion, freedom of speech. While others recognized that not everyone has access to education or medical care. One student expressed, “Freedom is free, it’s there when no one is controlling you and it means you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want!”
After fostering discussion around the word of the day, Coach Ken leads a fun movement activity that allows the kids to be superheros, funky chickens, ballerinas, Frankensteins, surfers, and more! To keep on theme of movement and exercise, Miss Kelly continues by teaching a few yoga stretches to loosen up the kids muscles and minds. She talks about how stretching is good for more than just your body – it’s also great for your mind! She shares research that supports the benefits of stretching and how it can help jump-start our minds.
Miss Kelly asks the kids to raise their hands above their heads – stretching tall – and bringing their hands down across their chest ending in a powerful self-hug. As this movement is happening, she’s asking the students to commit to the freedom of knowing who we are and allowing others to express themselves too.
The summer program continues with students reciting the YW3CA pledge and then breaking up into age-appropriate groups.
Our YEP team offers the same pattern of activities every day of camp to provide students with consistency and security. Cocah Ken’s group – the younger kids – enjoy a few activities that promote exercising both the brain and body.
Fun with Food is lead by Miss Kelly and today the students enjoyed building their own fruit yogurt parfait. As the ingredients were being passed out to the students, Miss Kelly reviews what nutrition is in each ingredient and how our body needs certain nutrients to stay healthy and active.
For example, Miss Kelly shares that raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, and bananas (all fruits included in the parfait), contain a ton of natural sugar. This natural sugar is great for our bodies compared to artificial sugar, but we should still be cautious of how much sugar we eat every day.
To incorporate all aspects of our S.T.E.A.M. themed aligned programming, the YEP team runs separate programs for each age group using Osmos Learning and WeDo LEGO kits.
LEGO® Education WeDo 2.0 is an intuitive hands-on solution designed to develop elementary school students’ curiosity and confidence to solve real-life problems through engaging STEAM projects. Easily adaptable to fit any learning environment, WeDo 2.0 challenges students to define problems, ask questions, and design their own solutions—setting them on a path to become lifelong learners.
Miss Kristie uses WeDo LEGO kits to get the kids in design-thinking mode. With the older group of kids, she has incorporated an Agent of Change project along with the LEGO kits – an opportunity to discuss design thinking and understand each students’ computational abilities. Through this activity, each student creates their own personal mission statement that describes and highlights their skills, strengths, and leadership styles wrapped around an issue they care about.
Bringing in the themes of YW’s mission, the ‘Word of the Day’s, and Agent of Change design thinking, we’re challenging students to understand who they may emphasize with and how they can embody Agents of Change in their every day lives.
The younger group of students works through the Osmos Learning program available through YW3CA’s YEP team. “Osmo merges tactile exploration with innovative technology, actively engaging children in the learning process.” This opportunity for children to learn through play encourages students to explore, experiment, create and collaborate all through one program.
Although these past few months have been challenging, our YEP team has enjoyed getting back in groove of programming safely and with the necessary precautions in place.
Learn more about our Youth Empowerment Program and enroll your child in fall program opportunities at: www.ywcatricountyarea.org/what-we-do/yep/.