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Summer Showcase Finale at YWCA Beacon Learning Center

By Aisha Wright and Andre Hudson, YWCA Minneapolis Beacon Program Coordinators
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This summer, YWCA’s Beacon Learning Center held a summer youth program at Franklin Middle School focused on leadership development, healthy life choices, college and career readiness, as well as science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for first through eighth graders.

During the summer, each morning started with breakfast and a Harambee circle, a motivational song to reflect and express unity in the program. Then, the scholars led other youth in cheers and chants to get each day started.

Dance, Music, Fashion, Yoga & STEM

For the first hour of each day, the youth worked on team building exercises to help them learn valuable social and emotional skills for the future. Then scholars split off into their specialized classes were they focused on a variety of subjects, including dance, music, fashion, yoga, coding and STEM.

Family Trees and Food Pyramids

Throughout the program, groups were divided into four different homerooms, depending on their grade level. In first and second grade homeroom, the youth focused on becoming aware of not only themselves, but also what is going on around them. They discussed topics like the food pyramid, family trees and social events happening in their community.

Team Building and Social Skills

Third and fourth graders worked on team building projects and developing social skills they can use in and outside of the program. They also learned how to respect one another’s space and time during activities. The youth shared personal stories so their peers could learn about parts of their lives outside the classroom.

Building Character and Self-Awareness

Fifth and six graders worked on building character and participated in exercises to help them become better scholars. Seventh and eighth graders were taught about self-awareness, which helped them learn how to recognize and control their emotions, as well as thinking about others. This group also touched on topics related to growing phases during life changes.

Summer Showcase Finale

The end of the program was wrapped up with a summer showcase – a celebration for youth and their families where youth had the opportunity to show off all their hard work from the summer. Some students walked down a runway showing off the outfits they made in fashion class. Other students made their volcanoes erupt. Some youth performed dance routines and songs they wrote in the program.

Families also enjoyed a yoga class, bounce houses, games and a meal of pizza and ice cream. The video above was shown as a reflection of the fun times the youth spent together over the summer.

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