Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Programming Close-Up: Project HAND

Programming Close-Ups

Because after-school is just around the corner, we want to give you better insight into how our after-school program operates and what we will be doing together this year. The post "What's New for After-School" briefly explains the basic structure for our programming; check it out for more info! To sum up that post, our students get to choose between several activities offered throughout the week. The goal of this Close-Up series is to thoroughly introduce you to each activity and the partner leading it. Hopefully after reading these, you will have a better idea what awesome things our Brashear Kids get to do!

Project HAND

Activity Leader: Mr. Neal

Our newest program this year is Project HAND: Helping Allentown Neighbors Dream. Instead of our AmeriCorps members interviewing and researching the community in order to develop a service project, we hope to include our students in this process. The end result will still be a service project that meets the needs of the community, however our students will drive the process from the start. As members of their community, our students should have a say in the way they want to impact those around them.

First Steps

While we want to include our students as much as possible, Mr. Neal has done some legwork to prepare for our showcase weeks (see our last post!). To kick-start interest within the community, Mr. Neal passed a flyer to community members, business owners, and officials. After explaining the project, he invited them to come to the center for an interview with the kids. Some poten
tial people we will talk to include Hilltop Alliance, Work Hard Pittsburgh, Dollar Bank, members from local churches, and residents of local buildings.
Mr. Neal has done plenty of brainstorming as to who to interview and what questions to ask, but has not gone any farther than that. Why? In the end, the students call the shots.

The Process

At the beginning of the activity time (4pm), the students will discuss the upcoming interview at 4:15 or so with Mr. Neal. He will introduce basic information about that person so we can brainstorm questions together. Questions can be about anything: What their job is, how long they've been in Allentown, what they like/dislike in Allentown, what they want to change, and so on. Of course, we do want to ask important questions, but there's always room for fun! What is your favorite food, do you have any pets, what kind of books/movies do you like, etc. While we want to learn from community members about how we can help Allentown, we also want to get to know them since we are all neighbors.

The Project

Once we interview different members of our community, we need to brainstorm. We will compare our interviews and try to find similar positives and negatives in Allentown. With the pros and cons in front of us, we will decide what our project should benefit. In the past, AmeriCorps members have organized days of service, clean-ups, fundraisers, and most recently, an Allentown cookbook.
To complete this project, we will need to brainstorm. Like before, all ideas are welcome! If we start with a very wide lense, even with silly and fun ideas, it will be easier to find the right approach for the project. We won't know if teaching everyone in Allentown to tap dance will help the bus system until we talk about it :)

Our Hopes

Whatever our project ends up being, we are excited that we can offer this opportunity to our after school kids. Through the process, students will develop interpersonal skills as well as gain insight on their community by interviewing community members. Organizing a service project will give them the experience to make more change in their area throughout the rest of their lives. Stay tuned this year; our Brashear kids are thinking up something great that will rock Allentown!

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