Stockert Youth & Community Center offering new after-school program

BUCKHANNON — This fall, Stockert Youth & Community Center’s afterschool club members will have the opportunity to participate in a new nature, garden and outdoors club. The club will meet every week, with garden, forestry, water, soils, and wildlife-themed activities. Kids will be asked to create a name for their club and will be involved in planning the club’s activities, including what they might plant in the SYCC greenhouse.

For four sessions in September, club members will try out a pilot program called “Wonder & Grow– Mindful Nature Experience,” a curriculum aimed at bolstering science, math and language skills through active outdoor experiences. For instance, students may learn about a particular animal species found in West Virginia, like the gray fox, and compare their habitat and biology to that of humans. Then, they might build a fox den or try out fox moves, like crouching, jumping and climbing. Afterward, they may write in their journal about the experience. Together, the day’s activity will include practice with math, engineering and language skills, all while getting exercise and learning mindfulness practices. Mindfulness meditation and yoga will be incorporated throughout the activities, teaching kids how to reset and become more resilient in a fast-paced world.

The Wonder & Grow program is funded in part through a grant from Try This West Virginia, a nonprofit organization that supports healthy lifestyle initiatives across the state. West Virginia Wesleyan College has hosted the Try This Conference each year since its inception.

The conference and mini-grants are funded by The Claude Worth Benedum Foundation, West Virginia Office of Child Nutrition, West Virginia Bureau for Public Health, Unicare, The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, The Highmark Foundation, Sisters Health Foundation, The Bernard McDonough Foundation, American Heart Association, West Virginia University Rural Health Initiative, WVU Health Sciences Center, West Virginia Development Office, Flex-E Grant program, Appalachian Funders Network and many other organizations and non-profits.

At this year’s conference, SYCC partnered with Valerie Warner and Kate Reed, the founders of Wonder & Grow, to support the activities at the SYCC afterschool club. Along with Beverly Elementary School in Randolph County, SYCC will be a first host location for Wonder & Grow, which plans to expand to locations throughout the region and state.

Ann Ludlow, a retired Elkins High School science teacher, who lives in Tallmansville, will lead the club at SYCC. The club will meet once a week throughout the school year. Besides the Wonder & Grow activities, club members will plant food, flowers, and trees in the greenhouse for transplanting or sale later. They may also visit natural features at our local parks, such as the learning trail at Riverwalk Park, community vegetable garden & orchard, and the pollinator gardens found throughout the city.

To get involved with this club or any of the other afterschool programming, call Stockert Youth & Community Center at 304-473-0145. There is still time to enroll in the afterschool program. Scholarships may be available for those in need.