Outdoor Education Center

Empowerment and Health

Students today are faced with many decisions in their life. FLOC aims to help students understand that they constantly have many choices, even when it comes to their health and the health of their community. Part of the youth empowerment programming adopted by FLOC’s West Virginia Leaders in Action program includes the self-awareness and knowledge that they do have power to make good decisions and affect change.

DSCN0150

Here in WV, the statistics for childhood obesity rates reached close to 18.5% in 2011 placing the state high on the list at number 13 compared with the 50 other states. For the same year, DC youth obesity rates were just above 21% putting the district at 4th highest among other states.   Poor health and nutrition and lack of activity can also be major determining factors in a person’s ability to focus, to sleep well, and have energy and motivation. The link between education and health is well documented, but it would not be surprising that students’ health could affect their education as well.

For the second half of the fall semester, our Leaders in Action programs have been immersed in the Health and Nutrition unit. Students looked at the consequences of added sugars with the enhanced visuals of actually measuring out the numbers of teaspoons of sugar in a variety of familiar foods and products. They also discussed standard dental hygiene practices and strategies for caring for our protective tooth enamel such as avoiding sugary acidic beverages. Everyone was surprised to learn that most fruit juices and sports drinks are comparable to sodas when it comes to acidity and sugar content.

The focus this month is on the importance of movement and activity in our lives.  Learning or developing unhealthy habits as a child can set a person up for a lifetime of difficulties and disease.  Play and movement can be fun, and implementing healthy habits can increase a child’s energy and confidence.  So last week, in honor of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign, we visited a local county park’s indoor playground and got active for one hour.  After learning how to measure their heart rates and get them up to beneficial levels, with the help of a moon bounce and some fun games like clothes pin tag, all those present got the recommended 60 minutes of activity in for that day.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The health of a population is affected not just by education and awareness, but also by economic inequalities, and access to healthy food and safe, active, appropriate spaces to play, among other things.  We don’t want our young people to be limited in life by preventable health issues.  Their potential is at stake, so let’s move towards a more healthy and just society together.

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV)

Advertisements
Events, News

Fall Fun at Butler’s Orchard

Pop quiz: What’s the best thing about fall?

  1. A long awaited break from the swampy DC summer temperatures
  2. Crunchy leaves on the sidewalks
  3. Trick or treating!
  4. The annual FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard

hay ride
The obvious answer is the FLOC Field Trip to Butler’s Orchard! This past Friday FLOC families jumped on a bus and headed out to Germantown, Maryland, for an evening full of all our favorite fall activities. Welcomed by our generous friends at the Meltzer Group, we immediately hopped into tractors for a spooky evening hay ride around the orchard. Butler’s Orchard goes all out with their decorations for this time of year, complete with ghosts in the trees, abandoned wagons, and witches brewing potions in the woods! Some of our more seasoned Butler’s Orchard veterans were savvy enough to pocket some snacks and share with fellow hayriders during our harrowing adventure.

As the sun was setting and the fall chill set in, families gathered around huge bonfires to warm up and roast marshmallows for s’mores. Terrell (our 8th and 9th grade Scholars Program Fellow) roasted his very first marshmallow, and he was a total pro.

pumpkin patch

Families enjoyed a relaxed evening around cozy bonfires, catching up with friends, and enjoying delicious snacks and extra hayrides. When it was finally time to head home, we were surprised with a trick or treat line of candy bags to fill our bellies for the ride home. All in all, a successful fall field trip.

Huge thanks to our friends at the Meltzer Group for hosting us! Happy Halloween everyone!

(Madelyn Giblin is the Neighborhood Tutoring Program’s Bilingual Program Coordinator.)

Outdoor Education Center

Welcome, new summer OEC counselors!

Every June, we at FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center welcome our new summer staff of counselors.  It’s an exciting and challenging time for all of us as they are run through an intensive training schedule 2 and a half weeks long that prepares them for co-facilitating our FLOC kids camps.

During this time, they end up covering everything from “hard skills” such as safety and techniques on our High Ropes course, canoeing on the Shenandoah River, or backpacking on the Blue Ridge to the ever important “soft skills” like facilitating groups of students through the Low Ropes course challenges, helping groups to think about and learn from their experiences, and building confidence and rapport with our campers through a positive culture of interactions.

Natalie pic 1

This year we are welcoming Natalie Pickett as one of our new summer staff counselors.  Natalie comes all the way from Birmingham, AL.  She attended Louisiana State University and just graduated with a degree in Child and Family Studies and a minor in Business.  She brings 3 years of experience working with 6th through 8th graders in an afterschool program during her time in college.

Being from the south, this summer Natalie is excited to explore and learn about a new place and appreciate the cultural, social, and environmental differences.  She is especially looking forward to bonding with our camp youth and watching many of them experience something new.   “This,” she says, “is the reason I took this job.”  In addition to her gifts and passion for music, guitar, and singing, she is also very interested in social issues, particularly that of social justice.  In the future, she’ll be pursuing a career in non-profit management where she looks forward to working with at-risk youth, underserved populations, and the homeless.

A big welcome to Natalie and all of our new summer staff.

(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in WV) 

Events, Neighborhood Tutoring Program, News, Scholars Program

Recognition Event Recap

On Friday May 29th, FLOC held its annual recognition event at the Woman’s National Democratic Club to celebrate all the amazing work our students, families, volunteers, and staff accomplished throughout the year. 11th grade Scholars Ghelatia and Johanna emceed, and FLOC staff gave out special awards to students and volunteers in four different categories: Visionary, Unity, Champion, and Empower.

10463039_10152862121706806_5222525444364736984_n

The Visionary Award celebrates students and volunteers who have a specific goal, a vision for the future, and have identified paths toward that objective.

NTP Student: Giselle
Scholars Student: Demarro
Volunteer: Gerald Mason

The Unity Award celebrates the people at FLOC who demonstrate exceptional relationship building or mentoring skills.

NTP Student: Valerie
Scholars Student: Jenny
Volunteer: Judith Blagrove
Student and Tutor Pair: Delchristoff and Jason Aiken.

10441229_10152862120231806_1935655132728649686_n

The Champion Award recognizes students and volunteers who are dedicated and committed to their program.

NTP Student: Wesley
Scholars Student: Joel
Volunteers: Bridgette and EJ Palmer

11329785_10152862120866806_8241727016059780663_n

The Empower awards are given to people who embody all of FLOC’s values. They go above and beyond in whatever their role is.

Partner: Acumen Solutions
Staff: Kimberly Davis
Family: The Ortiz Family
NTP Student and Scholars Student: A’Tyra
NTP Student and Scholars Student: Maura
Volunteer: Elese Sizemore

FLOC also recognized our 8th graders in Scholars and tutoring for an exciting time in their lives. They are all halfway toward completing their postsecondary degrees! To celebrate FLOC put together some High School Survival Kits. The kits included a FLOC notebook, a FLOC water bottle, a folder they could take on college tours, pens, pencils, and candy.

The night ended with time for chatting, eating food, playing games, and taking pictures at the FLOC photo booth. FLOC is excited to see what our students, families, and volunteers will accomplish in the future!

10426354_10152862123266806_4371224136071070925_n

(Tamarae Hildebrandt is an NTP Site Coordinator.)

News, Scholars Program

FLOC Students Take to the Hill

On Friday, April 17th, during DCPS and FLOC spring break, 8 FLOC High School Scholars had the opportunity to be lobbyists for a day.  They began their Capitol Hill visit with a working breakfast, learning and discussing about the U.S. legislative system, how to influence decisions and reach consensus, and the do’s and don’ts of lobbying.  Then the students broke up into teams of two and headed off to House and Senate office buildings to shadow some professional lobbyists and participate in meetings with congressional staffers on topics ranging from health care to cyber security to transportation infrastructure and more.

2015-04-17 15.13.41

One of our high school sophomores got to lobby a congressional staff member on the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind law (or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act), which sets national standards for closing the achievement gap and provides funding for state and local school districts.  Joel had the opportunity to share his own experiences with DC’s annual assessment tests and his recommendation that Congress make college more affordable for all students.

After a full morning of learning and lobbying, it was time for a fantastic lunch in one of the Congressional dining rooms, including ice cream for dessert, and a tour of the U.S. Capitol. Our tour included some of the usual interesting stops, like the Capitol Rotunda and murals, Statuary Hall, the old Supreme Court Chambers,  and the exact center of Washington, DC. But it also included some extra special behind-the-scenes peeks that the general public doesn’t usually get to see, such as visiting the Senate Cloakroom and stepping onto the Senate floor, touring the Minority Leader’s office, and a ride on the Capitol subway.  Many thanks to the staff from the offices of the National Governors Association, Senate Sergeant at Arms, Senator Bennett from Colorado  and the staff of the Democratic Cloak Room for making this tour possible, plus the Senate pages who spoke to us about their lives as high school students living and working in DC for the semester.

  2015-04-17 13.50.12

Our group of students included an aspiring politician and a young woman set on being the “second Latina Supreme Court Justice,” so the insiders glimpse into our political process was such a fabulous experience to help them on their career journey!

2015-04-17 14.17.17

(Elizabeth Metz is the Recruitment and Outreach Manager at FLOC.)

News

A Different Path: Violence Prevention and Educational Opportunity

Late last month, FLOC Deputy Director Robyn Lingo testified before DC City Council as part of a forum on preventing youth violence.  Read her powerful testimony about the impact out-of-school time programming can have on our young people and our city…

Testimony of Robyn Lingo
For Love of Children (FLOC)
D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary
Forum on Preventing Youth Violence
April 25, 2015

My name is Robyn Lingo and I am the Deputy Director at For Love of Children (FLOC). Thank you for the opportunity to testify today on behalf of For Love of Children.

Last year, our nation reached a profound milestone — 80 percent of our students now graduate high school. Within the District of Columbia, however, we struggle to graduate even 64 percent of our students. Our city boasts the highest proportion of young adults with college degrees, yet only 10 percent of our city’s own high school students will attain postsecondary degrees.

According to the DC Alliance for Youth Advocates, there are over 14,000 young people in the District neither enrolled in school nor employed, and less than 42% of 20-24 year olds in DC have fulltime employment. In the highest-need Wards of the city, those statistics are even more striking.

It’s not hard to see the correlation between the lack of educational opportunity and the prevalence of violence among our youth. Without us demonstrating a clear path to a successful educational journey and chosen career for our youth, we see all too often the dangerous and harmful direction that too many young people go down.

Everyday, FLOC is offering a different path, by providing opportunities for students to succeed in school, aspire to earn a postsecondary degree, and become contributing members of their communities. Unlike many other youth-serving programs, we provide a continuum of support that guides our students from first grade through completion of a postsecondary degree. Through our Neighborhood Tutoring Program, we intervene early to make sure that students do not fall further behind in reading or math. Building on those academic skills, our Scholars Program exposes our students to experiences, information and activities that build persistence skills to help them progress through their educational journey and into a chosen career.

As the Deputy Director of For Love of Children, I know that out of school time programs play critical roles in ensuring every student’s successful path toward adulthood and in preventing youth from being pulled into dangerous choices or violent circumstances.

photo3

A nationwide study by the Afterschool Alliance showed that DC has the highest after school participation rate in the U.S., yet we ranked 49th in the percentage of low-income children enrolled in an afterschool program.  In the same study, the Afterschool Alliance found that of those DC children not currently enrolled in afterschool, 66% would be likely to participate if an afterschool program were available in their community. As the data has shown many times, students who participate in high quality afterschool programs “behave better, receive better grades and perform better on tests than students that do not.” At FLOC, we also know that our students benefit tremendously from being exposed to college and career options that help them envision an exciting and rewarding future for themselves, and from the attention of caring, adult mentors who help them make smart choices about their future. These powerful interventions can make a critical difference in the course a young person takes into their future.

Over the past 50 years, FLOC has served more than 10,000 children, turning disparity into opportunity and making sure they stay on the right path to a healthy, productive and fulfilling adulthood. Currently, 100 percent of our seniors graduate high school, and over 70% have graduated from postsecondary or are persisting towards a degree. FLOC sparks community transformation one young person at a time by ensuring access to quality afterschool services that lead to postsecondary success. FLOC programming focuses on youth empowerment by building critical thinking, leadership, and advocacy skills that dramatically increase readiness for postsecondary education. Through our signature Neighborhood Tutoring and Scholars Programs, we intervene early and expose students to educational opportunities and career experiences that lead to proven success.

_MG_0421_edited

With more than 100 local and national partners, FLOC provides critical access to free afterschool services — from first grade through college and career — for youth throughout the city. Furthermore, by partnering with our students and families, we are organizing a community call for wider access to quality out of school time programming.

These are tangible, achievable steps we can take together to move closer to our vision: a city in which every child’s potential — regardless of zip code, skin color, or socioeconomic status — is unlocked with a postsecondary degree, opening the doors to success in life.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to testify.