Posted on May 4, 2017 by Bianca De León
As another school year ends and with summer on the horizon, it is not too early to start thinking about what kids will be doing during the summer break. To avoid the summertime cry of “I’m bored”, consider enrolling youth in a summer program. Planned activities by reputable organizations have the benefits of providing a safe environment for learning and making friends while also diverting youth from potentially harmful activity.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), first time use of marijuana amongst youth is highest during the summer months of June and July. If youth do not find a positive and supportive environment during these months, they might resort to risker behaviors in a negative environment. Summer programs often offer a combination of a safe place, an adult mentor, healthy snacks (and sometimes meals), increased self-confidence, physical activity, leadership opportunities, workforce skills and much more. This combination provides an experience for youth to engage, learn and play during the summer months.
Summer programs can be important for youth because:
They keep youth physically active! Between televisions, computers, tablets, phones, it’s easy to be connected to a screen; but youth need to be active at least one hour and have less than two hours of screen time every day to stay healthy! Summer programs can offer outdoor time, sports, swimming and other physical activities.
Summer programs can build a youth’s confidence and a positive attitude. Youth participating in programs during the summer months report enhanced social skills, improved relationships with adults and fellow peers and strengthening their ability to make new friends and connect with others. When youth are a part of a group, a team, a program, they grow individually and together, an invaluable social and developmental experience.
Programs allow youth to explore new interests. Unlike the classroom, most summer programs allow youth to discover activities they have never tried.
Transportation can often be a challenge for getting youth to a summer program. Sun Metro, in partnership with the United Way of El Paso County is offering bus passes that allow youth to ride Sun Metro buses for free. The Kids on the Go! program is available to youth, ages 6-18, enrolled in a summer program. Children ages 6-12 must have an accompanying adult who will also be provided a free pass. Passes are valid from June 1 to August 31, 2017. For more information on the Kids on the Go! program, call 915-533-2434.
If you haven’t thought of summer activities yet, it’s not too late. El Paso and the surrounding areas offer plenty of fun and affordable options to keep youth busy. Organizations like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, City of El Paso Parks and Recreation Centers, Creative Kids, YWCA and YMCA often offer a wide variety of opportunities for youth throughout the summer. A little forethought and planning now can save you time, money and frustration later in the summer.
For more information, contact Bianca De Leon, Associate Program Officer at 915-544-7636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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