YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County: Exploring the Meaning of STYAEach month, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence spotlights the work of a STYA provider. Our thanks go to David Pittman, who shared this month's ideas.
At the YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County, we provide an hour and a half of STYA programming every day after school at four schools in the Syracuse School District. One of our biggest challenges has been to have the participants fully understand and buy in to the purpose of STYA. We feel this is important because we want our participants and their families to understand that the activities they participate in are connected to something greater: an investment in themselves and their future. In order to achieve this, we created an infographic poster that describes what STYA is and why it's important. We emphasize the value of being mentally, emotionally, and physically well in order to be healthy and achieve goals. At our recent open houses, we introduced the poster to participants and their families and encouraged them to put it in a place at home where everyone could view it.
Our program staff reinforce this idea of mental, physical, and emotional well-being by creating activities and spaces for participants to explore what that means. For example, at our Frazer School site, our coordinator uses Peace Circles or Restorative Circles to discuss issues pertaining to mental and emotional well-being. At their recent open house, we even invited the parents to participate in our circle so they could see firsthand how we are working toward supporting their children.
Once a week, each of our sites has the health educator from our partner Reach CNY lead activities that are specifically focused on health. For the health education component, we have been focusing on topics such as nutrition, physical activity, mental and emotional wellness, and healthy relationships. We try to incorporate as much of the students' everyday lives into our health education lessons as possible, whether we're discussing positive friendships, choosing healthier snacks, or encouraging families to exercise together. Healthy lifestyles start in early adolescence, when young people are just beginning to make choices for themselves. Fun and engaging activities like nutrition label scavenger hunts, fitness games, and feelings/emotion charades help our students learn to make healthy choices in a friendly environment.
Previous SpotlightsThe following documents are in PDF format:
Spotlight 1 - Engaging Youth: Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center
Spotlight 2 - Involving Parents: Niagara Falls Housing Authority
Spotlight 3 - New Experiences: Orange County Youth Bureau
Spotlight 4 - Engaging Youth in STEM Workshops: Mount Vernon Youth Bureau
Spotlight 5 - Connecting Youth to Community: Committee for Hispanic Children and Families
Spotlight 6 - STEM Zombies and Mad Scientists: Boys & Girls Club of the Bellport Area
Spotlight 7 - Collaborating to Build Skills: Metro Council for Teen Potential
Spotlight 8 - Cultivating Civic Responsibility and Creativity: Central Queens YM & YWHA