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Afterschool Enrichment in Philadelphia

Afterschool Enrichment in Philadelphia

Afterschool Enrichment is one of our six programs that combat the opportunity gap for DREAM mentees. It focuses on supporting the academic growth of mentees and is entirely voluntary for them. Whether they need help with their homework or are looking to improve on their reading or math skills, DREAM mentees can find a welcoming and rewarding environment with their Afterschool Enrichment Coordinator.

In Philadelphia, at the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM) Program, Cheyanne Smith and Tamia Moi-Thuk Shung have been helping run Afterschool Enrichment for around 7-10 DREAM mentees who show up to the community center after school. They partner with two more Afterschool Enrichment coordinators who work on separate days. Despite being outnumbered, Cheyanne and Tamia run activities like an oiled machine. The kids must complete a worksheet (provided by the Afterschool Enrichment team) before they are allowed to free play. After free play, they are reined back in for an activity related to the topic of the day before they go home. Tamia says routine is the only way for the mentees to learn to settle down once they arrive from school.

Once at the community center, all mentees are expected to follow guidelines established during the summer (the mentees helped come up with these); No phones; complete worksheet; be respectful; and don’t bully; these help set the tone for a successful Afterschool Enrichment session.

The idea is to emphasize positive feedback and to validate the mentees as much as possible. Cheyanne was very clear in that she did not want the Afterschool session to feel like more school. It would be a place of support, but one that also fostered a sense of fun and rewarded the mentees for their progress. Rather than saying “No” all the time to shut down behavior or stop problems, Cheyenne and Tamia make sure to offer solutions to any qualms that come up and listen to the mentees. It may become tedious, because often solutions are learned slowly, but it is necessary to address what the mentees need rather than dismiss their behavior to establish order. There are many ways to reinforce positive behavior as well. For example, Cheyanne gave each of the mentees a bag and had them write their name it; whenever they did something well, she would drop a sticker or another small prize inside and let them take it home when the session was done.