The YMCA’s FitKidz afterschool programs hosted an unusual visitor last month: a giant, talking robot elephant. During her visit, Ellie the elephant, sponsored by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, detailed her life story of being mistreated as a circus animal before being rescued by an elephant sanctuary for the two dozen students. “Ellie’s presentation was provided by TeachKind, as an exercise in empathy for animals and to encourage children to relate the real Ellie’s story to their own experiences with bullying,” FitKidz advisor Amy Henderson told the Boothbay Register. “It was a great lesson in treating people, and animals, the way you want to be treated.”
Ten University of California Davis graduate students are inspiring elementary and middle schoolers to try their hand at science projects through the Young Scientists Program. The afterschool program is a safe space for young students to perform science experiments while connecting with graduate students in STEM fields, giving them positive role models to look up to as they start to think about their future studies and careers. “By interacting with us, they can see that we’re just, like, dopey regular people,” volunteer Robert Stolz told the Register. “Hopefully, if the kids imagine themselves as being ‘maybe I can be a scientist someday,’ that is just the highest thing this program can achieve.”
The Aspira afterschool program has been mitigating dropout rates among Latino students in the Bronx for half a century. Today, the program encourages students to participate in their education through sports, college preparation, cooking and more, inspiring youths to be more active at school and in their communities. “We’re really empowering all of our Aspirantes to give back to their community, because that’s the Aspira process, that’s the Aspira way,” Melissa Lopez, director of the COMPASS afterschool program at P.S. 31, told News 12.
Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer visited the Hoops for Homework afterschool program to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday last week. During her visit, Spicer read two classic Dr. Seuss books – One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and The Lorax – pausing occasionally to engage with the young students and answer their questions. “The best thing, first of all, I get to connect with these young women and men,” Spicer told Wicked Local. “These are kids that can say ‘you know what? Someday I can be the mayor.’” Other local officials. Including State Rep. Jack Lewis and several city councilors, also attended the reading.