APS Column: Engaging Austin, Minnesota youth in Summer Learning Adventures

Published 4:58 pm Friday, May 10, 2024

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By Jen Lawhead

Community Education Director

As the summer months approach, the community of Austin is preparing to provide our young residents with exciting opportunities for both fun and learning. Recognizing the importance of keeping young minds active during the break from school, Austin Community Education offers a wide range of programs aimed at preventing the so-called “summer slide” and promoting healthy habits.

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According to the Minnesota Department of Education, the statistics are concerning. On average, students can lose two months of reading skills and 2.6 months of math skills over the summer break. Moreover, the summer months often witness unhealthy weight gain in children, up to three times faster than during the academic year. However, the Austin community is determined to combat these trends with innovative initiatives.

One such program, More Than Pink, stands as a beacon of empowerment for young women in Austin. More Than Pink was honored by the Minnesota Community Education Association during the 2023-2024 school year as an exemplary program. Organized through Austin Public Schools’ Community Education Department, this summer program not only fosters physical activity but also cultivates invaluable life skills. Participants engage in training sessions for a 5K event while also focusing on many important areas of development including self-advocacy and communication skills. It’s more than just a race. It’s an opportunity for young women to discover their strengths and build confidence.

Readers Café, another commendable initiative, promises to nourish both body and mind. Hosted at IJ Holton during the free summer lunch program, children can indulge in a good book, enjoy interactive games, or unleash their creativity through various projects following a nutritious meal provided by Austin Public Schools’ Food and Nutrition Services department. This holistic approach ensures that young learners are not only fed, but intellectually stimulated during the summer months.

Furthermore, Austin Public Schools’ Community Education department offers a plethora of engaging learning opportunities accessible through its website. From arts and crafts, robotics, chess camp, and more, there’s something to spark the curiosity of every young learner in Austin.

In a time when the importance of education and wellness is increasingly recognized, the efforts of the Austin community to provide enriching summer experiences for youth are truly commendable. By investing in programs that promote learning, physical activity, and healthy habits, Austin is not just filling the summer months with fun, but also laying the foundation for a brighter future for its children.

Check out our Community Education Summer 2024 brochure at https://online.flippingbook.com/view/585128812/ to learn more and register for classes and activities.