STAUNTON, VA (10/11/2013)(readMedia)-- Staunton Parks and Recreation is celebrating 30 years of our before and after school program called HEART which stands for Healthy Environmental Afterschool Recreation Time. The program takes place at the three Staunton elementary schools: Bessie Weller, A.R. Ware, and McSwain. The HEART program begins in the mornings at 7:30am (earlier at some schools) and ends at 8:15am. The after school program begins at 3pm and ends at 6pm. While at the HEART program, children engage in outside free-creative play, participate in a dedicated homework time and are provided a healthy snack. Speaking of snacks, over the years, due to the numerous studies now prevalent in the media- we've moved away from individually wrapped snacks, white bread and junk food. We believe the healthfulness of our snacks set us apart from other afterschool programs in the area. It is our goal to provide fresh fruits and vegetables, a variety of dips, and other snacks that are low in preservatives, additives and contain as little GMO product as possible. The children also enjoy guest speakers, storytellers and arts and crafts at least once a month. Another superb aspect of our program is the quality staff that we are fortunate to have onboard. Many have been with us for 10 years or more, and they undergo many hours of annual childcare training. Soon, these vital staff members will be featured on our website as a miniature meet and greet for parents.
On October 18th we are participating in a national event called Lights on Afterschool which is a project of the Afterschool Alliance. It's a day to celebrate Afterschool programs and to raise awareness of the benefits that are associated with participating in a quality afterschool program. On this day, the children will become "makers" and create a fun craft activity and enjoy a special, and very rare sweet treat. We've invited local dignitaries to stop by and see what life is like for an after-school student.
Two projects are already in progress in order to kick off the Lights on Afterschool event. Each of our 3 elementary school sites created a Thank You card for the Staunton City Central Office to thank them for all their hard work, and to express their appreciation of the partnership we have with them. The second project we are leading is a "Caught Being Kind" campaign where HEART staff will keep track of all the acts of kindness children display during the program. Staff will verbally praise them for their kindnesses. These kindnesses can be as simple as tying a friend's shoe, or letting someone go ahead of them on a piece of playground equipment. The acts of kindness will be tallied and the children will receive a reward at the end of the semester (the children don't know this yet).
It is our hope to continue with a community service or kindness campaign throughout our program in the future. We'd also like to take a moment to thank the parents of the children in our program for participating so that we can keep doing what we love to do and keep providing a caring, quality service to the Staunton community. Thank you for 30 great years!