Be Active

BE ACTIVE After School Program

Middle school is a time of transition. For many students, this may mean moving to a different school-building for the first time in their academic career. For others, having a schedule and shifting between classrooms (each with a different teacher) throughout the day is a significant change. This is also the time when middle school students are moving from childhood into adolescence, where they are at increased risk for stress, depression, eating problems and peer pressure as recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.

As if this precarious stage of development wasn’t difficult enough, the Covid-19 pandemic has further impacted both obesity and mental health in our youth. Quarantine kept kids away from friends, teachers and mentors. More time was spent with technology and less in physical activities outdoors. Pandemic mandates created stress for parents and kids, with the constant fear of becoming infected and spreading the virus. School was virtual, which reduced the ability to learn, and also significantly decreased physical activity, especially in those that used to play sports, but no longer could.

The CDC in recent studies showed, during the pandemic, obese kids gained over 14 pounds and moderately obese kids gained 12 pounds. Even kids with healthy weight gained over 5 pounds. In addition, suicide attempts among adolescents jumped 31% in 2020 in in early 2021 attempts were 51% higher among girls ages 12-17.

In response to the mental and physical health crisis facing our youth, the Y is proposing to offer high-quality afterschool programming to an at-risk student group that historically lacks extracurricular options. The Y’s Middle School BE ACTIVE (MBA) program will engage boys and girls, grades 6-8, in activities that enrich both their physical fitness and social-emotional growth. There are countless studies that correlate academic success with regular physical activity.

The centerpiece of the MBA program is a menu of afterschool activities for participants to explore and enjoy. For many kids today, the stressful nature of competitive sports can cause apprehension and anxiety. Similar to a physical education class, students will be able to try new activities in a positive group environment, without the competitiveness of organized sports.
Modeled after our highly successful afterschool Gym and Swim programs for elementary aged students, middle schoolers will be transported by bus directly to the Y to participate in planned activities. Activities will be offered in four 8-week blocks. Two different activities will be offered Monday through Friday, serving a maximum 10 kids in each activity. This will allow for up to 100 youth to be served each week.

Students will register or re-register for activities for each block based upon their interested activity and demand for that activity. As a part of registration, students will be asked first choice, 2nd choice and even 3rd choice of activities. Once registrations are received, specific activities will be formed and scheduled. Where possible, high interest for gender specific activities (i.e. boys’ basketball, girls’ volleyball, etc.), will be scheduled.

Menu of Activities:

  • Swimming
  • Strength & Conditioning
  • Martial Arts
  • Ninja Warrior Training
  • Boys Basketball
  • Girls Volleyball

Group Sessions Include:

  • Social Emotional Learning
  • Financial Literacy
  • Work Readiness Skills
  • Healthy Living

 and more!

With activities designed to build a healthy spirit, mind and body, the MBA program will be impactful on multiple levels. Students will leave the program having built deeper relationships with their peers, having gained trusted adult mentors in the community and newfound confidence in their ability to handle life’s physical and social challenges.

It’s our goal that this program will be the start of a flourishing relationship between the students and extra-curricular activities. With this positive experience as an introduction, we expect to see many re-engage and join school sports teams and/or Y members as they enter high school and continue to benefit from enhanced feelings of self emotionally and physically.