In school with EdGE

by | Nov 24, 2023 | News

The Mission’s EdGE program is known for its afterschool and summer camp programming, which has provided a safe, nurturing space for kids for more than 20 years. But EdGE happens during school time too! This year, the Mission offers in-school programming for all seven EdGE partner schools in Washington County. 

The in-school activities focus on the same goals as afterschool and reach all students even those who do not attend the Mission’s afterschool programming. During in-school programming EdGE’s Youth Development Coordinators work with students on communication as well as social and leadership skills. The coordinators visit the seven participating primary schools a few times monthly to visit all grades’ classrooms. Primary Youth Development Coordinator Wren Wakeman explains, “A usual session starts with an opening question. Students then transition to games and activities, which focus on working cooperatively.”  

Last year, 6th grade students at D.W. Merritt Elementary in Addison participated in ten weeks of EdGE in-school programming. Wren says at the beginning of the initiative, the students were unsure and a little reluctant to participate. At one session early on, the students were posed a question, What color are you feeling? “The kids were not super into it; they didn’t really want to answer,” she says, “But around week three, I saw a change in the kids. They started to open up. By the eighth week they would come in telling us their color.”  

Wren explains questions like these that Youth Development Coordinators pose give students a space to engage with potentially harder or less talked about topics (like emotions) in a safe and meaningful way. Such questions also help each student understand they view the world through their own unique lens. She says the students soon were able to identify that people see things differently “one person’s feeling sad might be associated with blue and the person standing next to them might associate blue with the feeling of happiness.”   

The Mission works with students on both their social and emotional development. Programs are designed to focus on all of skills that they might not get in the classroom and includes key components like a physical activity, cooperative work that challenges students to rely on each other to complete a task, and time to think and reflect on what they have accomplished.

In-school programming started at a few schools last year, but it really took off at D.W. Merritt Elementary where a couple of teachers welcomed EdGE into their classroom every week. Lorna N. Greene, the school’s principal, says the Youth Development Coordinators help students build social, leadership and team building skills. “I see [the students’] confidence, determination and self-esteem grow. This helps make them better students, better friends and better members of the school community!” Because of this success, word spread to other schools. For the 2023-2024 school year, all seven of the Mission’s partner schools are utilizing the Mission’s in-school programming.  

In addition to in-school and afterschool programming, EdGE also offers summer camps and the Marion Kane Leadership program. 

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