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Girls on the Run moves through the pandemic

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit organization that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that integrates running. 

The program, a long-time City Connects community partner, encourages girls of all abilities to recognize their individual strengths while building a sense of connection in a team setting. 

At the end of the season, the team completes a 5K together, which provides a tangible sense of accomplishment and sets a confident mindset into motion.

Volunteer coaches, often drawn from school staff, facilitate lessons that blend physical activity with life skill development to enable girls to adapt to whatever comes their way. 

Among the ranks of volunteers is Keisha Anderson, the City Connects Coordinator at Belle Haven Elementary School in Dayton, Ohio, who has served as a coach. She helps Girls on the Run connect to students who want to participate.

It was straightforward work. Then the pandemic hit. 

Continue reading “Girls on the Run moves through the pandemic”

The Weekly Connect 5/16/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Disruptive kindergarteners are likely to be bullied when they get to elementary school. Interventions can help. 

A White House program will offer low-cost internet access to eligible families. 

Students need summer learning programs that don’t feel like school. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/16/22”

The power of partnership: City Connects and The Salem Pantry

Salem Food Bank partnership

Robyn Burns’ first day of work as the first full-time Executive Director of The Salem Pantry was March 25, 2020. 

“When I was hired prior to the shut down, I thought I was joining a small organization. I wasn’t yet thinking about the impact of a global pandemic,” Burns recalls.

The Salem Pantry had been around for thirty years as a volunteer-run organization, Burns explained to the Salem News during a video interview in April of 2020, when she and the rest of the world were forced to think about the pandemic. 

The pantry was doing a small mobile food distribution program through pop-up sites and running a backpack program in Salem’s public schools, sending kids home with backpacks full of food.

Continue reading “The power of partnership: City Connects and The Salem Pantry”

The Weekly Connect 5/9/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Over the past year, nearly two-thirds of LGBTQ youth could not access mental health counseling.

Millions of students lack access to the broadband internet services that a 21st century education requires. 

Some cities are hiring more social workers to help students cope with Covid-driven behavioral and mental health challenges.

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/9/22”

A national conversation on supporting the whole child

The pandemic hit schools hard.

But federal Covid relief funding is giving schools an opportunity to recover and grow stronger by making strategic new investments in supporting students and helping them succeed. 

We’re excited that City Connects is part of this national conversation.

Last month, a federal summit – “From Recovery to Thriving: How the American Rescue Plan is Supporting America’s Students” – hosted by the U.S. Department of Education, brought together “education leaders, advocates, and philanthropic partners” to discuss how American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds are helping schools and students.

Among the summit speakers was Jillian Lain, Director of City Connects Midwest, which is based at Marian University’s Center for Vibrant Schools.

Continue reading “A national conversation on supporting the whole child”

Children Are Resilient: A Letter to the Editor from Dr. Mary Walsh

An April 24 article in the Boston Globe tackled the challenges educators are dealing with in the third year of the pandemic, including how to support struggling students.

“Everything I’ve trained for, everything that’s worked in the past, none of it’s working,” said Laura Messner, a middle school English language arts literacy specialist in Scituate. “I’m very worried about what’s coming down the pike if we don’t think about how we’re going to address these challenges that are not temporary challenges.”

Dr. Mary Walsh, executive director of the Center for Thriving Children and expert in developmental psychology, wrote a response to the article, focused on concrete ways to better support students and teachers.

Dr. Walsh’s letter was published last week. 

“The article “Teachers help students struggling to succeed” powerfully covers the impacts of students’ challenges. It also highlights missed opportunities for more effectively supporting student — and teacher — well-being and learning.

“Though the challenges of the current COVID-19 era are real, children are also resilient. Mental health is bolstered by a range of interventions. Mild to moderate needs can be addressed with a caring school environment; after-school programs; mentors; participation in sports, arts, or other extracurricular activities; and relationships with peers and adults, while serious mental health needs require therapeutic treatment.

“Adding more counselors and social workers to extend current strategies is unlikely to be financially viable or sufficient to meet the need. Instead, schools that create systems of support to provide every student with an individualized support plan are seeing improvements. These systems connect each child to a tailored set of resources and enrichment opportunities to address that student’s strengths and needs, drawing on resources in the school, the community, or both. These systems of “integrated student supports” are now known to improve student well-being and learning, as well as support teachers who, early research shows, are less likely to leave the profession if their school has such a system in place.”

What Dr. Walsh conveyed in her letter reflects the City Connects practice, and its evidence of positive short- and long-term impacts on student learning and thriving. To learn more about the City Connects model, click here and to learn more about best practices for integrated student support go here.

The Weekly Connect 5/2/22

Here’s the new edition of The Weekly Connect. Check it out and sign up to have it delivered to your inbox!

Here are some of the things we’ve been reading about this week:

Pre-K enrollment drops because of the pandemic.

Children’s cabinets break down government silos to meet children’s needs.

Enrollment falls in schools that operated virtually during the pandemic. 

To read more, click on the following links.

Continue reading “The Weekly Connect 5/2/22”

A City Connects Coordinator shares her superpower: asking people for help

Student painting from a “Paint and Sip” event at Southbridge Academy

“People want to help. All you have to do is ask,” Kelly Moulin says. 

Moulin is the City Connects coordinator at Southbridge Academy in Southbridge, Mass., and she is exceptionally good at asking for help and inspiring people to say yes.

Southbridge Academy is a PBIS school — meaning the school provides Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports – that has 40 students in grades 6 to 12 who have individual educational plans or who need more support.

Because the school community is so small, and Moulin isn’t shy, one thing she does is ask students for their input. Moulin sends out student interest surveys to get guidance from the kids on a number of issues.

“The top three things that the students listed on their interest survey were music, sports, and art,” Moulin says. Unfortunately, Southbridge Academy doesn’t have a full-time art teacher so Moulin asked the part-time teacher to help. “We did an age-appropriate version of ‘Brushes and Beverages’. We call it a ‘Paint and Sip’ party, and we provide soda, popcorn, and chips and free canvases and paint and brushes for the kids.”

Continue reading “A City Connects Coordinator shares her superpower: asking people for help”
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