Mental health and wellness continue to be a core part of our youth programming. We now have counseling embedded in our summer program where children and their parents are working with a licensed psychologist and social worker.
We currently have 75-minute group sessions for parents once a month with 24 participants. We also have 60-minute group sessions for the children, once a month, and sessions are adjusted for age appropriateness. Additionally, we have individual sessions for 8 children and 6 families. Therapists provide referral services for needs that extend beyond our program capacity.
There are 44 children enrolled in the summer program from ages 5-13. Our new programming this summer is a Lego Robotics class from which we are hoping to build a competitive robotics team. Some of the other classes are Gardening, CAD/3d Printing, African Dance, Leadership, and Capoeira.
We just completed a successful Spring Break week youth program. Each day, the children were able to go on a field trip to local destinations which provide cultural enrichment. During the 5-day program, which lasted from 7 AM – 6 PM, the children attended the Museum of Health and Science, the Museum of Fine Arts, a day in the park, and other events. Along with the daily outings, we were able to dedicate longer periods of time to the CAD/3D printing program. Throughout the week, the children received approximately 8 hours of instruction.
In addition to the spring break program, the children are receiving after-school training in Capoeira, art, and gardening, along with academic assistance. Attendance for the spring break program ranged from 8 to 15 students with 55 hours of activities and enrichment. Attendance for the after-school program is 20 students.
As we focus more attention on the mental well-being of the children in our community, they have started attending twice-weekly counseling services with a licensed psychologist and social worker. The children are getting to work through some of their complex feelings and emotions with a qualified guide. This program also provides counseling time for program parents in group and individual settings. Our inaugural session had 100% parent participation.
The After School Enrichment Program continues to strengthen and we are really excited about 2 new programs! Our students, ages 5-13, are now learning CAD and 3D printing. With the help of community partnerships, we have the training class twice a week. The children are already learning design basics and we hope they will be ready for robotics competitions by the end of 2022.
The second program is equally important in providing the children with the best opportunities for their futures. This month, we will begin giving the children access to individual counseling sessions with a licensed psychologist.
We currently have 18 children in the program, which is a little lower than we expected after 4 students moved with their families. However, we are now able to connect parents to subsidized childcare, which will help to sustain the program. Our major challenge is transporting children from their local schools to our program and doing it in a timely enough manner that all their program time is not spent on transport. Resolving this will give us an opportunity to expand the program.
Now that we are completing the last two weeks of our Summer Youth Enrichment Program, we are looking forward to the upcoming school year for our After School Enrichment Program. The summer program yielded exciting results with a higher than expected attendance. We were able to enroll 42 children, and actually had a waiting list. Last semester, we adjusted the age limits from 5-15 to ages 5-13, and expect to re-implement programming for the older children in the fall.
With the help of our supporters, we were able to add 2 full-time, temporary summer staffers, and hope to keep either one or both as permanent staff. The summer program was able to offer new classes such as Swahili, Intro to Cryptocurrency, Journalism and Media, and Literacy through Photography.
As we continue to work on sustainability for our youth programs, the parents have made a phenomenal effort in their contributions. Parents are consistently participating in the mandatory parent meetings every other week. And, the number of parents contributing toward the parent payment of the program tuition has increased from about 20% support to now having 90% of the parents making a full or partial payment.
Last year during this time, our children entered the spring break program that wouldn’t end. After multiple closures and program cuts due to the coronavirus pandemic, we were able to keep the youth program open through Spring Break 2021, and are looking forward to a robust summer enrollment.
We experienced ups and downs during the Fall 2020 after-school program. The children were shuffled between online and in-person classes throughout the year. There were weeks when our fall enrollment dropped to 4 students.
To meet the needs of the community, we shifted our program between an all-day program to assist with the virtual learning platform and an after-school program to support in-person learning. Because our students attend different schools, there were times when some of the students only had virtual learning at their schools, so they needed SHAPE for all-day programming; while other students’ schools required in-person classes, so the children needed SHAPE for after school support.
As the school schedule was beginning to normalize, Texas suffered through a devastating winter storm disaster and the children were thrown back into uncertainty. With your support, SHAPE was able to remain constant in providing the children with a safe space, educational and emotional support, and many of their physical needs, including a warm space with electricity and running water for more than 50 families; and meals and drinking water for more than 300.
The spring Break 2021 program maintained an enrollment of 10-15 children and families are already registering for summer.
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