Family Connections, accredited by the National After-School Alliance and licensed by the Department of Children and Family Services, works with children, ages 5 through 12, and their families. It provides a thoughtful balance between creativity and structure and lays a solid foundation for participants' emotional growth, leadership development, and academic performance, while incorporating family interaction and community involvement. Children participate in experiential learning activities such as working in their own garden, overseeing their own fitness routines, and managing entrepreneurial ventures to raise funds for a holiday party or to beautify their school. Children and parents develop life skills, confidence, and a sense of personal well being through these experiences.
Family Connections children completed eight community enrichment projects, through which they learned new ways to impact their community. Some of the ways discussed during reflection sessions were: speaking out when they had a concern; writing letters and circulating petitions; and making a video to educate others. All of the children shared that they wanted to do more community impact projects - "powerful", "happy" and "excited" were some of the words they used to describe how they felt as a result of completing the projects. The work that Family Connections facilitated around conflict resolution supported the community outreach efforts, as children gained skills in listening, teamwork, and organizing.
The Family Connections Leadership Corps members deepened their community impact efforts by identifying a community issue to which they wanted to provide solutions. The children worked with a long-time volunteer and her 12-year old daughter to complete a nine-week project examining the concept of "respect" and the ways in which respectful behavior impacts their community (inside and outside of Family Matters).
Family Connections meets Monday through Friday, 2:24 - 6:00 PM, September through June.