Monday, July 1, 2019

First Round of the ALEC Summer Camp Series, Check!

Two Mondays ago, The ALEC Team could barely wait for the first round of our summer camp, starting out strong with two weeks of Venture Outdoors. It is so great that we have a lot of returning youth from our after school program, some returning youth from summer programming in years past as well as a few new faces.

The first week of Venture Outdoors camp met us with rain, but, due to it being so warm outside, we were all grateful for the rain. Plus, our students learned that a little rain can be relaxing.

We were able to see some awesome sights around the city via hiking different trails including Frick Park and the Three Rivers Heritage trial, as well as biking along Washington's Landing and other places around the North Shore! 

Some laughs were had along the way, and your youth learned some great things about nature as well as trail etiquette, bike safety, how to appreciate the subtle things in nature, patience as well as perseverance, mindfulness, and teamwork. Some of these activities pushed our students out of their comfort zones, and once the activity was underway, they ended up learning and expanding their horizons, even some of our ALEC staff! That's what Venture Outdoors is all about, venturing, learning, discovering, and sharing. While everyone had a blast, there were definitely some sleepy campers en route to our home base.

We hope all of you are having a great start to summer, and are able to get outside and do some venturing of your own. 

Until next time, 

The ALEC Team

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Hello Allentown, Mr. Zach here,

It has been a pleasure serving my AmeriCorps term here in Allentown and specifically, ALEC.  The kids have been absolutely wonderful and I hope that they had just as much fun as I did! 

It's sad to say that this is my last week as an AmeriCorps teacher.  However, I am very happy as I will continue my career with the Brashear Association at the Neighborhood Employment Center.  All have made me feel welcomed and I'm excited to meet even more of you!  Have a great day!!


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Brashear Kid's Green Playces

Happy Wednesday Everyone!

Since after school program has ended, we've been gearing up for our awesome summer camps!  We decided that in order to have the best summer for the kids, our outdoor space needed a major revamp. 

We've been hard at work along with some major help from our friends at Grounded and Grow Pittsburgh.  A special thanks goes out to everyone who volunteered their time to help out as well!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Project HAND and Cans

Last year was our pilot launch of Project HAND, developed by our AmeriCorps KEYS teachers. Project HAND (Helping Allentown Neighbors Dream) is a community service project guided by teachers, and led by youth. At the beginning of each school year, the KEYS teachers meet with the youth of ALEC to discuss how they would like to contribute to their neighborhood. This initiative encourages civic engagement, community interaction, awareness, and finding your voice in the least expected places. This has been an empowering opportunity for our youth to have a 'hand' in their community and encourage their peers to do the same. 

ALEC received a grant from Remake Learning, the initial intent was to purchase two street trash cans, starting with the Allentown borough, however, another idea flourished; Why not buy trash cans for our neighborhood? 

Saturday, May 18th was Project HAND's first Neighborhood Trash Can Distribution. Not only did we serve over 50 households, we also held a painting event for those who would like to decorate or add their personalities to their new trash receptacles. 


We had a great turn out and it gave our neighbors a chance to come and see what ALEC is about. Now only are we focused on learning and enrichment, we are connected to our communities and with this pilot start, we look forward to branching out further to extend our hand and our hearts to our neighbors. 

While ALEC is located in Allentown, we are also open to other South Pittsburgh communities. Summer is just around the corner, do you have plans? If not, please join us for our Brashear Kids Summer Camp at ALEC. We are still accepting applications, the price is free and a great way to get more youth together and involved with one another. We are looking forward to a fun summer of kayaking, bike riding, art camp, tech, and learning how to garden. If you would like to know more about our Summer programming, please call us (412) 620-8282 or stop by and visit us! We are located at 827 E. Warrington Avenue, right next door to Mr. Leon's and across the street from Zone 3 Police Station.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The Dudes Meet Zone 3

If you know the Allentown Learning and Engagement Center, you know we are always BUSY. We love buzzing around the community and learning about our surroundings, and this spring has been no different! What have we been up to lately, you may wonder?

This past month, we were fortunate enough to receive a grant from the Nora Roberts Foundation. This grant made it possible for us to join forces with SLB Radio Productions to interview the brave men and women who serve as police officers at Zone 3.

Throughout the month, we have been working with the officers to learn more about their stories.The goal of this experience was to clear up any misconceptions the students may have about police officers, especially in a time when these conversations can be confusing.
Today, we got the chance to sit down with everyone involved to listen to the final product of interviews, have some pizza, and even check out a police cruiser!
Thank you to The Saturday Light Brigade for giving our youth a voice. Thank you to Officer Luffey, Officer Wright, Officer Shelton, Officer Brozell, and Sergeant Cannon of Pittsburgh Bureau of Police Zone 3 for generously donating their valuable time to our Center. Thank you to RE 360 LLC for giving us the space to record. Finally, thank you to the Nora Roberts Foundation Inc. for making all of this possible!
If you’re interested in hearing the final interviews and the boy’s reflections, check out this link.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Over the past couple weeks, Brashear Kid's have been working with Saturday Lights Brigade Radio which is located in the Children's Museum in the Northside.  They have been recording our kids while they interview the Zone 3 police officers!

This past Saturday, they actually got to go in the booth and talk while live on the air!  Here are a couple pictures.  Check in with us as our kids are doing BIG things for their community!  Click the link to hear their portion of the show!  They did an amazing job.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Indoor Herbology and Gardening

This Spring we thought it would be a good idea to introduce the concept of indoor gardening with a focus on herbs. Herbs are such a crucial type of plant, not only do they make your recipes taste extra good, they also provide a lot of medicinal qualities that are very beneficial. While it's common to use planters, even paper products, we decided to try our luck with mason jars. Some of the staff is familiar with gardening while others, such as myself, are learning along with the kids and we are all amazed at how fairly simple it is to grow a basil plant inside. These herbs are also easily transferable into an outdoor garden if ever desired. 

The herbs we are currently working with are basil, oregano, cilantro, and lavender. Mason jars were purchased for each student along with seeds, soil and rock. We are happy that everyone is learning more than they expected and enjoying the process more than they may have expected. This is a great lesson to teach younger youth about patience, attention to detail  (via research), discipline and empathy. Some of the students have even named their plants. 

Along with the planting process, the students are exploring their chosen herbs in detail by compiling a growth data sheet, research facts, and a creating informational posters about their favorite new pieces of information that they would like to share with others. We are very excited to continue this unit as a branch of Project HAND by empowering the youth of ALEC to be creative with their available resources and learn that sometimes it just takes a little bit of ingenuity to create something in an unlucky environment; A lesson all of this are wise to keep close to us.

If you are curious about starting your own indoor garden, stop by sometime and we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Enjoy this spring weather and be well.

Ms. Christa


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