Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The After School Club

Nakine holding up his composition after the writing session.

As one of the Grow Well initiatives, Grow Well wanted to provide more activities geared towards youth in the community of Gros Islet.  Extra curricular activities help to give these youth something to do other than just to roam the streets.  The less time that the kids hand out on the streets, the more time they can possibly spend developing into their full potential.  

Game day at ASC....

My work here includes, but is not limited to, helping my community counterparts in Gros Islet to fulfill the initiatives brought forth.  Because of this initiative, I started organizing what is now known as the Grow Well After School Club, or the ASC for GI.  This program is at the base level currently, of course, but I see it taking form as the weeks go on.  

When I would hang out a little bit longer after co-teaching at the CARE school during the day, I noticed that there were kids that would gravitate towards the centre.  This was a great thing.  However, they needed a little bit of focus and discipline in order to make it a positive thing.  Thus, the ASC!!  

Some of the girls during Game Day Session.

The first two Wednesdays was merely getting the kids to come in, take a consent and information form, and learn how to sign in.  The kids were a little resistant to signing in and out at first, but now most of them ask for the sign in book.  Progress is slow, but certain.  After the first two sessions, we moved into working on creative art projects.  Luckily, I was given some very quality stencils from Judy Joyce, a volunteer in Dominica.  We used the stencils to draw and color.  The youth seemed very keen on being into the arts.  The only thing with the arts sessions is that they can be a little messy!  

After spending a few weeks completing the arts sessions, we moved on to creating "makeshift" drums.  During my months here, I have been collecting various materials that can be used in arts and crafts.  We took plastic and metal jars, bottles, and cylinders to create drums.  First, they were assigned the task of decorating the drum bases.  This took the entirety of one session.  The second session was devoted to designing the top of their drums, and the third to playing their creations.  

Though not all of them were able to make it to the session in which we played the drums, the kids that were able to make it learned a little bit about sound and design.  They got to not only test out the drums that we all made, but they also got to hear the difference in sound.  They realized that the size and material of the drum does make a difference in the pitch and tone of the sound that is produced.  This is very basic knowledge for music, but it can make all the difference in exposure.  Sometimes, the exposure of just getting the opportunity to have fun with music can encourage a youth to get involved in the music world.  Hopefully, these kids will have the curiousity to get involved in music later on in their lives.  

The session after the drums was a "game day".  We spent most of the time playing board games in small groups to emphasize teamwork and patience.  My mother always played board games with me when I was a child, and for this I am grateful.  It really taught me how to work together with other people and be patient for my turn.  Though it does not seem like much to teach kids how to play board games, it really can instill good virtues in them sometimes.  

      Composition Day 2 at the ASC.

The past two sessions have been writing a composition.  I am corresponding with an after school centre now in California, Irvine.  I thought that it would be good for the kids to write a letter to the centre telling them a little bit about themselves and describing St. Lucia.  In order to encourage them to do a little more work after spending the whole day at school, I baked some "snacky cakes".  Whoever worked hard and really put some effort into their composition earned a snacky cake.  

The second session was devoted to finishing the compositions and taking individual pictures to send with the letters.  I am going to put the pictures together in a collage of sorts before I send them with the letters.  

So far, I have really only planned two weeks ahead of the actual sessions.  Right now we are testing out what works and what doesn't with the kids so that when we put together a comprehensive program for the ministry to look at we will have a basis of interest for the community.  I have been lucky in trying to find volunteers for the club as well.  Though, I am still working hard on finding local parents, teachers and community members to take the place of the "6 monthers".  It is incredibly difficult to get parents to help out in their spare time here.  Finding local community members to be the ones running the club is going to be very difficult, but I am going to work on finding these people throughout the two years!  It is a good resource for the kids, and it really gets them to spend some quality time being creative and to start thinking outside of the box.  

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