Growing up, I spent a lot of time in extracurricular activities and enrichment programs. My mom made sure of that. I’m not sure how she kept up with all of our schedules and kept us busy, but she did it. And I can say today that it is because of those programs that I am the person I am today.
I gained an interest in engineering and science through the Children’s Museum and MEAP (Minority Engineering Advancement Program) at IUPUI. I gained a love for music through piano lessons, jazz records, and rapping for school talent shows at Tech High School. I got bit by the entrepreneurship bug by participating in a summer candy store at School #86 (I was the school candy dealer after that experience). I played basketball at Tabernacle Presbyterian Church and played baseball at St. Albans. I learned how to shoot and edit videos for Indiana Youth Institute at Indiana Black Expo. All these programs have continued to greatly impact me into adulthood.
Although I learned a lot through school (math, world history, science, etc.), I never said, “When I grow up I want to do math or science”; these are subjects, not vocations. When kids talk about what they want to be, they say “I want to be a dancer,” or “I want to be an astronaut.” You can’t be a subject.
Human beings want to “be” something. In these programs, kids learn how to be. Though, of course, we must have fundamental education that enables us to “be” better. Without these programs, our children find it hard to understand how subjects like math impact real life.
When I helped run the summer school candy store in third grade and we had to count up our profits, and all of a sudden I really cared about math. After that, I went to the grocery store, bought candy in bulk for a couple of pennies for each piece, and then I sold each one for a nickel or more. Every week I would count the profits and go back and buy more candy. This is when math as a subject mattered. The programs I participated in outside of the school day made me more interested in what I was learning during the school day.
Each experience added not only to my intellectual growth but also to my social and emotional growth, as well. The programs made me a more creative person filled with purpose and goals as they also kept me away from being idle and getting caught up in the wrong things.
We know that children find their passion and purpose in life and discover who they want to be while participating in these crucial programs. So why then, as a parent, are these programs so hard to find? Why do these programs struggle year in and year out to find students and to make parents aware of the many educational opportunities?
This is why we started AfterSchool HQ—because it shouldn’t be this hard for such crucial programs to succeed. It shouldn’t be this hard for our students to be given the best chances to succeed.
In order to help do our part, we’re creating a free online directory of programs to make it easy for every program to promote and for parents to find them. We want every program to be accessible and for our children to get the experiences they deserve.
If you provide enrichment programs for children, create your free profile on our platform and let us promote your program to parents. We look forward to transforming education for students everywhere.