The most precarious hours of the day for youth are between 3pm and 6pm, after regular school programs have let out and parents have not yet returned home from work. It is during these hours that The Club at Collington Square offers a safe haven for youth.
The Club is an academic-enrichment and community arts out-of-school time program serving youth in kindergarten through 4th grade at Collington Square Elementary Middle School. The Club provides 60 children per year with academics, physical education, STEM education, and community arts programming. The Club also houses an emergency food and clothing bank to help families through crisis situations.
The Club’s programming is based on the theory of positive youth development that indicates that engaging young people in positive activities decreases their likelihood of truancy and involvement in criminal/at-risk behaviors.
Club staff also encourages students in the use of peaceful conflict resolution through positive behavior incentives, Club community service, mentoring, reflection time, parent conferences, and personal accountability for one’s actions. These practices build positive relationships among students, volunteers, staff, family, and the larger community.
The students served by The Club have been identified as being in need of additional resources to afford them the opportunity to be more successful in their educational and social development. Each day, youth are given homework assistance with the help and support of staff and volunteers. Reading and math objectives are discussed between Club staff and school faculty, and reviews of student progress are shared. STEM instruction provides real-world applications for complex math and science concepts through hands-on projects and experiments. In addition to academics, The Club offers community arts programming through a partnership with the Maryland Institute College of Art. Students engage in visual arts projects that inspire creative exploration and examination of cultural awareness of the issues and concerns that face the community around them. Art is viewed as a vehicle to propose resolutions to these issues.
The Club also seeks to provide students with increased knowledge and awareness regarding healthy foods, nutrition, and physical activity. Students receive a healthy snack and supper while in the program. Students also learn how to prepare inexpensive, healthy snacks and meals.
Each child at The Club has a plan for safe travel home, provided by the student’s family. The Club communicates directly with the school to address school attendance, behavioral, and academic concerns. Additionally, they notify the school and families if a student is absent for more than two consecutive days.
‘Strength’ painting by Dontae.