How to design an after-school program for teens?
February 23, 2011 1:58 PM   Subscribe

I have a chance to start an after-school program for teens in my rural community. I have no experience designing this sort of program. Help!

I live in a rural community in SoCal. Public transportation is almost nil, so there's not a lot for teens to do around here. (Especially the junior high crowd.) I've long dreamed of being rich enough to open up a place where teens can hang out, get homework done, and maybe do a little exercise.

The local Parks & Recreation is soliciting applications for classes at their two Community Centers. One of the centers is within walking distance of the junior high and high schools. On a whim, I sent an email to the P&R folks asking about the application process. I received a reply asking me to be more specific about my idea for "an after-school exercise class."

Now I'm stuck! I don't know how the heck to design a program like this!

My general outline:

1. Open about a half hour before high school gets out (to get set up).
2. Exercise class that starts about a half hour after high school gets out.
3. Exercise class #2 that starts about a half hour after junior high gets out.

Exercise = stretching, little bits of dance & martial arts mixed in for variety. The main goal is to get kids to move around and have a little fun.

How do I make my idea sound appealing to the P&R folks, parents, and most importantly, the teens around here?

Oh, and my motivation for doing this? Offering kids an alternative to getting into trouble out of sheer boredom. Plus contributing to a really nice little community I've been happy to call "home" for almost 8 years.
posted by luckynerd to Education (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The only thing I can suggest is to troll the intertubes to see if you can find any currently existing programs that you like, and model yours off those. +1 if you call someone at the relevant organization and ask them what worked and didn't work, and then build on that.

Do you have any connection to schools or teachers? I bet you'd be able to find a sympathetic ear, and get access to kids in your target group. Then you can ask them what they would be interested in.
posted by emkelley at 3:05 PM on February 23, 2011

I'm sure everyone has their own version, but when I'm writing up a program doc, I generally follow this outline:

I. Program Overview: General description addressing the needs in the area, the population of kids you want to work with, instructional/personal development goals for participants, what your program can provide

II. Needs Analysis: A more detailed description of the environmental and social factors that exist in the community and what happens because of them

III. Program Description: Describe your program in some detail--a day in the life narrative.

IV. Results: How your program meets the needs in the community

V. Schedule:
- Typical Day: Break down a day to show what activities are planned on a typical day, how long they go on for, and the goal (what exercises? Why these particular exercises?)
- Overall: Rough plan for the entire program period (I'm guessing it's 6 weeks or the like?)

Take this with a grain of salt, though. This is totally made up by me, and while it works for the educational non-profits I work with, it may not fly with others.
posted by smirkette at 3:13 PM on February 23, 2011

I teach an after-school dance/aerobic class to teens 3x/week and I love it! I think it's great that you want to start something like that, and, as I've learned from experience, your students will love it, too! I don't know much about starting such a program, but as the teacher, some things that I've noticed:

*gender-separate classes are ideal, if possible. Teenagers, especially younger ones, may not feel comfortable exercising with the opposite sex, and it's a whole lot easier focusing a class of girls if boys are not around (and vice versa).

*music, speakers and a microphone head-set are all a plus, if they're available. It might be something you can request from the rec. center.

*first aid and liability issues. I've been surprised at how unaware some students are about their own health problems -- asthma, knee pain, etc. It might be good to know what exercise intensity and fitness level you'll expect in the class. Also, if you aren't trained in CPR/AED/first aid, that would probably be a good thing to do before you start.

Feel free to message me if you want to have other questions!
posted by bluestocking at 5:00 PM on February 23, 2011

that is: message me if you want to talk OR have other questions. :-)
posted by bluestocking at 5:01 PM on February 23, 2011

You might contact Steve Liberati, who started Steve's Club. It's a "beat the streets" kind of program for kids. (In Camden, NJ, no less.) He's sponsoring a national program to get people to do the same thing.

Even if you're not into the whole crossfit thing, he'd probably be willing to send you some pointers. (Contact info on linked sites)
posted by ctmf at 11:01 PM on February 23, 2011

Maybe connect with a YMCA for advice on getting started?

Try to corral some of your target audience of youth wherever they are now and ask them what they'd like. Try to give them specific examples of options, but listen to all their ideas.

Sounds great. Good luck
posted by Heart_on_Sleeve at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2011

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