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Great Lakes Theater "The Merry Wives of Windsor," 2014

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Providing safe afterschool arts & sports programming to CMSD youth (Guest Blog by Boo Geisse)

I think about safety in two ways. There’s physical safety, which includes the safety of the body, the home, and environments that lend themselves to opportunity. Physical safety is you and I working and living without injury, our children getting through school without harm. This type of safety also incorporates the space around you: your right to exist, to take up space, to participate. It’s being in an environment that allows you to do what you want to do, to pursue goals and dreams.   

The second way I think about safety is in the form of emotional safety. This one’s a little bit trickier—emotional or psychological safety means feeling safe. To me, emotional safety is trust and confidence in others; it means support systems and family systems that support open relationships and communication. Emotional safety means attentive parents and respectful children, and it means practicing self-reflection so that unhealthy thoughts and behaviors may be modified.

In the ideal world, all of our children feel safe, both physically and emotionally. They feel safe on the walk to school, they feel safe with their friends, safe to raise their hands in class, safe to try new activities and safe in all ways at home.

But we don’t live in the ideal world—and in the response to this reality, we as a society have created organizations and services to help deliver necessary tools and resources.

America SCORES Cleveland

Miss Bri works on poetry with some of the 3rd graders at Mound STEM during summer programming at Mound Elementary School.

At America SCORES Cleveland, we address the often unstructured hours between the end of school and early evening, when working parents come home. With nothing to do, children and teens gravitate towards destructive behaviors—or, at the very best, are left unattended and at the mercy of their peers.

America SCORES Cleveland partners with Cleveland Metropolitan School District to offer afterschool programs that keep kids safe in all ways. Our unique curriculum combines soccer and creative writing, so that kids get exercise, learn teamwork, work on literacy skills and develop methods for healthy expression.

Through America SCORES Cleveland, CMSD youth in grades 1-8 receive programming between 4-5 days a week for 60-90 minutes after school. They are coached by their school teachers, who run our programming at our partner schools. This way, children don’t have to ride a bus or walk to a new location: after that final bell rings, they congregate in an agreed-upon location, enjoy a healthy snack and go straight to programming with children and adults they know.

We as an organization stress the importance of team values: our three pillars are teamwork, leadership and commitment. We also know that healing and empowerment is born from self-expression, and we encourage our poet-athletes to do this through their poetry. Together, as a team, our youth play soccer and write. They learn to communicate, to sort conflict, to make compromises and to support one another. They learn that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

The foundation of any youth development programming is, of course, safety. Without fostering healthy environments, we cannot change lives. America SCORES Cleveland believes that creating safe and affirming programs—with set rules of conduct and communicated expectations—allows students to explore and express themselves in new ways. And this, ultimately, is what we’re all about.

This blog is used under license and was submitted by volunteer contributor Boo Geisse, Program Manager, America SCORES Cleveland. Learn more about America SCORES Cleveland at their website, http://www.americascores.org/affiliates/cleveland. The opinions represented here are the authors' own and do not necessarily reflect the views of CPAC. CPAC does not endorse the purchase of products or services by its guest bloggers. We thank all writers for volunteering their expertise with us in order to continue to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture community.

Categories: Arts and Safety, Arts Education, creative intersections, sports

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