As the academic school year comes to an end, Empower Yolo moves forward through the continued challenges of the pandemic to offer local youths engaging, virtual, summer programs. Through Empower Yolo’s After School Safety & Enrichment for Teens (ASSETs) program, which supports local teens and youths in Woodland and Knights Landing, we are offering our Freshman Leadership Academy and Kids Day Camp this summer.
Freshman Leadership Academy –
Freshman Leadership Academy (FLA) is an important program for teens entering 9th grade at Woodland High School (WHS) or Pioneer High School (PHS) in Woodland. “FLA is an opportunity given to students to positively focus on developing themselves so they can be successful academically, and in a society as well,” says Fabian Iglesias, ASSETs Program Manager, Woodland & Pioneer High Schools.
FLA seeks to assist students in navigating this new chapter of their lives through a virtual month-long program from June 15th through July 13th. The program focuses on empowering students to attain educational excellence and career achievement. The program is offered at no cost to students thanks to a collaboration among ASSETs, Woodland Joint Unified School District (WJUSD), Yocha Dehe, the University of California, Davis Early Academic Outreach Program (EAOP is part of the Department of Undergraduate Admissions), Travis Credit Union, and the City of Woodland.
“The program focuses on students’ top 5 talents identified by the CliftonStrengths educational program (a means to measure 34 research-validated talent themes), which helps students grow confident in who they are and how they can contribute to the world; and provides them with the opportunity to develop their leadership skills. This is done by giving them words to areas that they naturally excel in; giving them opportunity to continue to develop their leadership skill set; providing them with life/work skills; and informing them about college, which allows them to make informed decisions as to how to start their high school education with a goal in mind. Making informed decisions will continue to open many doors of opportunity as they think about their post-secondary goals,” says Iglesias.
FLA has four components: 1) life/skills provided by ASSETs staff; 2) college information provided by EAOP staff; 3) four year academic planning provided by WJUSD, WHS and PHS advisors; and 4) strengths-based leadership provided by an EAOP, CliftonStrengths certified facilitator, which helps teams leverage their strengths to build trust, increase engagement, and cultivate stronger relationships. Upon completing the program students gain three elective credits.
“Students will come to understand that leaders are not born, but are individuals who are willing to continue to learn and develop themselves, and that with the information gained they will start the academic year with a strong foothold to making informed decisions,” says Iglesias.
Due to the pandemic, the program has moved to online instruction, college campus visits have been cancelled, and the team has become creative in how they give students the opportunity to interact with each other all while learning new information in a limited time.
Besides various challenges such as technology issues, changing in person curriculum to virtual delivery, getting the students engaged, and learning how to teach online, the benefits are that students have been able to virtually visit many more campuses than what they would have in person. Students have also learned how to videoconference via Google Meet and Zoom.
“Our hope is that by the end of the academy students’ self-esteem and determination to achieve their post-secondary goals has greatly increased, and that they have developed the connections with not only the high school staff, but with the outreach programs so that they can continue to seek guidance along their four year high school journey,” says Iglesias.
The community can support FLA by donating incentive prizes for participating students. We plan to acknowledge students’ effort for participating virtually over the next four weeks. Students earn points for “raffle tickets” as they participate. The more they participate, the more points they receive, and the more opportunities they earn to win prizes. We are also looking for grand prize raffle items for those students that do not miss any days of the academy. Prize ideas can include: gift cards to coffee, fast food, Amazon, Target or Walmart. Grand prizes can be anything a teenager would enjoy such as earphones, phone charger, wireless speaker, or gift cards. Donations can be made at the Woodland office during office hours.
Kids Day Camp –
Kids Day Camp, which is run through Empower Yolo’s ASSETs program, gives children the opportunity to keep active during the summer. The program is intended for children ages 6-12 to provide a safe environment for them to learn arts and crafts and play sports. The program will be run virtually this summer from July 15th through August 5th, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Some of the fun activities planned for the children are making slime, play dough, canvas painting, creating bracelets, crayon painting and more. Because of the coronavirus team sports such as soccer, kickball, flag football, tug-a-war will have to be replaced with personal exercise challenges, stretches, and other basic exercises.
“Our hope is that participants in this year’s virtual Kids Day Camp are able to have an engaging and creative experience through our virtual activities. It might not be the same as an in-person experience, but we will do our best to make it as fun as possible,” says Liliana Nuño, ASSETs site coordinator.
Some challenges that we are facing with COVID-19 are: having to do the whole program virtual when our activities are very hands-on; changing our team sports program to personal exercise challenges; and also having technological issues with computers or internet connection can be a barrier with working with the children. Since our participants are younger, they can get more easily distracted and not focus through the computer as well as in person.
The community can help by spreading the word so we can continue offering this program in future years. There is still availability to participate this summer; please sign up soon because space is limited. All materials will be provided. Contact (530) 661-6336 or email [email protected] for questions or to register. “Even with COVID-19, we will try to make activities as fun and engaging as possible for the children even through videoconferencing,” says Nuño.
For more information on Freshman Leadership Academy or Kids Day Camp, or to donate any time visit: empoweryolo.org.