April 19, 2013
Spring Break is a highly anticipated time of rest and relaxation for area students each year. Many students travel with their families while others participate in various other extra-curricular activities throughout the week. However, if you are a child who lives in an area shelter, opportunities like these are few and far between.
This year, in an effort to provide children in the YWCA’s After-School Enrichment Program (ASEP) with an enjoyable yet educational spring break experience and an opportunity to learn about another culture, children in kindergarten through eighth grade learned about Egyptian culture.
The week was packed full of crafts and activities which included making traditional Egyptian headdresses, necklaces and cuff bracelets, as well as making the Egyptian pyramids using toothpicks and marshmallows.
The highlight of the week for the children was the trip to the Birmingham Zoo. “Our zoo trip kept our Egyptian theme going because Egypt was the first place to have a zoo and import exotic animals,” said Marianna Pardo, ASEP Coordinator. “The children learned about all different types of animals and species and how they have evolved over the years.”
In addition to their zoo trip, the children also visited the skating rink, movie theatre and bowling alley. “Although we have a very structured program, we work very hard to keep the children engaged by presenting materials in an exciting way,” said Delyne Hicks, Senior Director of Child Care Services. “Nothing makes us smile more than to have our children tell us how much fun they are having while they are learning. That simply means we are doing something right.”
The week ended with a traditional Egyptian food tasting. Students were given the opportunity to try foods that they have never tried before and may not have otherwise been able to sample. “The looks on some of the children’s faces as they tried new foods was priceless,” said Pardo.
YWCA ASEP services are extended to the children of homeless families living with First Light, Jessie’s Place, Salvation Army, Pathways, Birmingham Hospitality Network and residents of YW emergency and transitional housing. The supporters of the program are United Way, the Belk Foundation, Crippled Children's Foundation, Joseph S. Bruno Foundation, Birmingham Board of Education and VP Funds.
The need for a program of this nature is great because the children are at a higher risk due to the transient nature of their families. The after-school program gives these children the extra attention and support they need during the school year. This is done through the use of tutors and academic enrichment activities. The YW works as a liaison between parents, shelters and counselors to ensure that the children's academic and emotional needs are being met.
The YWCA Central Alabama would like to say thank you to all of the volunteers and staff members who chaperoned the children’s spring break activities. To learn more about the ASEP program, or if you are interested in donating to the YWCA, please click here.