Elevate Youth, Mayor Siddiqui’s Office, the Work Force Youth Program, and Mit’s Office of Government and Community Relations Launch Free Outdoor Program for 4th and 5th Graders This Spring

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Cambridge, MA – After a successful pilot of the 2020 Local Parks Program last fall, the Office of Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui, local nonprofit Elevate Youth, and the Cambridge Housing Authority’s Work Force Youth Program have expanded their partnership to include MIT’s Office of Government and Community Relations for the 2021 Local Parks Program beginning this spring. 

“MIT OGCR is excited to support this collaboration between the Cambridge Housing Authority’s Work Force Youth Program, Elevate Youth, and the Office of Mayor Siddiqui to provide quality outdoor programming for young Cambridge scholars this spring as part of the Local Parks Program,” said Dr. Rohan Kundargi, K-12 Community Outreach Administrator of the MIT Office of Government and Community Relations. “Opportunities like this help empower future generations of outdoor explorers, scientists, and environmental champions to better understand the world around them.”

The Local Parks Program continues to be completely free of charge, in-person, outdoors, and offered to 4th and 5th grade Cambridge Public School students who normally would not have the opportunity to experience the outdoors in a structured environment. The program will begin the week of March 22nd and run weekly through this fall.

Start Date: The week of March 22nd, 2021
End Date: Late fall 2021

Day: Every Monday afternoon
Timing: 2:30 - 4:30pm
Location: Sennott Park
Capacity: 12 students

Day: Every Wednesday afternoon
Timing: 2:30 - 4:30pm
Location: Danehy Park
Capacity: 12 students

The goal of this partnership has always been to empower CPS’s highest need students, through social and emotional learning activities centered around structured time in the outdoors led by Youth Instructors from the Work Force Youth Program with support from Elevate Youth staff.

“We are excited to continue this partnership with Elevate Youth along with MIT OGCR,” said Ayesha Wilson, Senior Teacher-Counselor of the Work Force Youth Program. “The meaningful work experience that the Work Force Youth Instructors are able to gain is extremely valuable. Older students giving back to younger students, helps to build on the social-emotional needs that have greatly impacted many young people overall during this pandemic. Being outdoors, engaging in nature and with peers all seemed to be a win-win from the students I spoke with in the fall, and calls on the urgency to continue and to expand programming this spring. We're truly looking forward to this!”

Each outing will have a primary focus of empowering youth through hands-on learning, open-discussion, and a friendly and inclusive environment. Students will have the chance to explore nature in our local Cambridge parks with games and skill-based learning, nature walks, and birdwatching, as well as the opportunity to join field trips to try new sports (including hiking, sailing, surfing, rock-climbing, fishing, and orienteering!) and to visit local farms and urban gardens.

“Last fall, we saw that the Local Parks Program not only provided an amazing free opportunity for underserved children to have rich experiences connecting with one another and with nature, but it also provided such a remarkable mentorship opportunity for our Work Force Youth Instructors, who blew us away with their leadership skills,” said Mayor Siddiqui. “This year’s programming will have even more to offer, and I can’t wait for Cambridge families to take full advantage of it this spring, summer, and fall.”

Participating families will also be able to engage with Elevate Youth’s new E.A.T. Initiative and receive a free box of specially curated local produce and dry goods each month, which will be paired with virtual cooking classes and education about where our food comes from, led by local chefs and advocates.

“We are thrilled to invite more Cambridge youth to join our Local Parks Program, as well as partake in our E.A.T. initiative,” said Alec Griswold, Executive Director of Elevate Youth. “It is essential for kids to get outside and reap the many benefits of nature and we look forward to offering our healthy food and wellness curriculum to magnify those benefits.”

The Local Parks Program model adheres to public health safety guidelines from federal, state, and local officials and allows parents to easily pick up and drop off their children without the need for shared transportation. Within a safe and controlled environment requiring social distancing and mask-wearing, students are able to enjoy the outdoors in a fun, educational, and enriching way.

In the words of an Elevate Youth Cambridge parent, “My son really loved the days he was able to meet up with all of you. Every week, for a couple of hours, things were close to normal.”

Elevate Youth is continuing to accept applications from families of 4th and 5th graders until capacity is met. For those who are interested, please text “CAMBRIDGE” to 857-995-8050 or email Elevate Youth’s Program Coordinator Cam Regan at cam@elevate-youth.org.

For more information or questions, please contact B. Kimmerman, Mayor Siddiqui’s Education Liaison and Policy Advisor at bkim@cambridgema.gov

Page was posted on 2/24/2021 9:48 AM
Page was last modified on 2/24/2021 2:23 PM
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