RSES Clubs

RSES Offers New After School Clubs
Posted on 01/17/2020
RSES has partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension this year to bring two new afterschool programs to its students that focus on physical and emotional wellness.

The new programs, a cooking club and a 4-H club, expand on work begun last year when the Wellness Club launched as a way to increase student engagement and address some of their mental health and emotional needs.

“By fourth grade, they’re more verbal so they are to express anxiety, fears, what’s going on in their home life, and they don’t really know what to do with all of it,” said RSES Social Worker Dana Podkowka, who is coordinating all three programs. “Having a Wellness Club just shows different outlets, different ways to get out some of that frustration.”

The first group to launch, in October, was Cooking Matters for Teens. Geared toward 6th graders, CCE Nutritionist Whitney Kmetz brings ingredients for a quick, easy and healthy meal that students prepare as a team. She shares the recipes for students to take home and talks with students about healthy eating habits.

During the day, she pushes into classrooms to work through the CATCH curriculum, which helps students identify healthy foods, engage in physical activity and think more about positive lifestyle choices.

“We started the program to offer something different to hook more kids into staying after school and working with their peers,” Podkowka said. “Every kid needs their reason to want to be here, so I feel like this is reaching a certain group that may have just taken off and gone home. Now we have them a little longer.”

Later in the fall, 4-H educators began meeting with students for a variety of fun, hands-on activities that supported team-building, character-building and STEAM skills. Students decorated pumpkins for Halloween and tie-dyed t-shirts during their first two meetings. Other activities on the horizon include building and launching paper rockets, experimenting with dry ice and completing a community service project.

“Everything that we do is just really trying to target what the students are interested in and what’s fun as well,” said Craig Brown, 4-H Youth Development Educator.
Last year’s Wellness Club picked up again in the winter, with a different activity each week – yoga, pet therapy, drumming. In addition to community agency representatives, RSES staff members have often led sessions.

Podkowka said the new programs have been another way to connect students to school, their peers and their academics, and they provide students with some unique hands-on learning experiences. She plans to launch a Girls Circle to provide students with a safe place to talk and process their feelings.

“It’s definitely been positive. It’s a good incentive to get your work done all week and meet behavioral expectations,” she said. “You can see some of the personalities coming out, some are taking leadership roles and starting to blossom. It’s neat that I’m already seeing growth.”

Visit our Facebook page for videos on each of the three clubs.