Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo: Creative Literacy Program and Parent EngagementEach month, the ACT for Youth Center of Excellence spotlights the work of a STYA provider. Our thanks go to Robert F. Lowery, who shared this month's story.
Literacy, Learning...and Horses
Due to the unseasonably cold temperatures, our goal of having a winter camp during February recess could not occur. We did, however, implement the program during our spring recess in April 2017. For the camp, we partnered with Lothlorien Therapeutic Riding Center to provide a week-long literacy program. Staff from Lothlorien and our program agreed working with horses should not only be fun, but educational, which led to a literacy-themed program aligned with Common Core Learning Standards and incorporating several of our national programs.
Monday: Each member discussed what they learned after completing their research on the definition of a therapeutic horse camp. They created their daily journals and watched a short film on horses.
Tuesday: Members took the ride to East Aurora, NY. Many expressed they had never been to the area. Upon arrival, they were introduced to staff and were anxious and somewhat leery about getting started. The ice breakers were the perfect beginning to get the members moving. Camp rules were reviewed and discussed. Members found the activities to be very engaging and had high praise for all of the staff.
Wednesday: The members learned how to groom the horses, the names of the tools used, and the daily activities that go into taking care of the horses. The members also learned the cost of supplies, food, and other maintenance materials for the whole year.
Thursday: The members groomed the horses and dressed them up for a show. They practiced walking around the arena with their horses, leading them and practicing stop and go commands.
Friday: The members groomed the horses that they were going to be riding. Each member had about 30 minutes of riding time with the horses, going over stop and go commands, figure 8s, and stepping over poles, etc. They also made cards, decorated cookies, and watched the animated movie "Spirit." It was heartwarming to see that our members felt that if a camp can help children and adults with physical and emotional challenges, it must be a special place.
Partnering for Family Engagement
To enhance parent/family engagement we partnered with several Buffalo Public Schools and their Family Engagement committee for a variety of family activities. In January, we sponsored a Family Game Night. Youth and staff participated in playing games with family members. The game night was open to all students and their families, and a total of 49 parents attended. In February, we sponsored a Family Bingo Night. During this event, parents were also given the opportunity to become familiar with the common core learning requirements for Math and ELA. Parents were very surprised to learn what their students needed to know and where they needed improvement in order to meet state requirements. In March, we sponsored a "Read Baby Read" presentation through our partnership with Every Person Influences a Child (EPIC). The goal was to encourage reading to your child. We had a total of 38 parents attend.
In April, we partnered with Delaware North to sponsor a family Health Fair. Families participated in healthy cooking class demonstrations, hip hop dance class, martial arts presentations, physical fitness, and agility classes from World Gym trainers. Fruit smoothies, vegetable dips/recipes and healthy wraps were provided. The challenge that we discovered was how to find the best timing to get parents engaged with the program. We try to host our events around 5:30-6:00 pm, along with providing some events on the weekends.
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
Spotlight 9 - Exploring the Meaning of STYA: YWCA of Syracuse and Onondaga County
Spotlight 10 - Innovative Field Trips and Discussion Activities: New Alternatives for Children