Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State

Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State

NJSACC: The Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities encourages afterschool programs to take advantage of all that the Garden State has to offer and get their children outside to explore the flora and fauna, animals and landscapes of New Jersey.

About Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State:

Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State is an event in its fourth year that helps to bring children in afterschool programs outside and connect them with their communities through meaningful and fun activities throughout the year.  We Celebrate our efforts in the month of April with concentrated events and activities all about Nature.

To get kids outdoors more or even bring nature in, NJSACC has created a resource booklet for providers that list easy, inexpensive activities that can connect children with nature in categories like Trees and Leaves and Nature Art. There are lists of field trips and enrichment program resources for providers as well as nature fun facts and nature experiments that can be done in only a few minutes.

Celebrate Afterschool! is a month long community celebration of children and nature.

NJSACC asks Afterschool programs across the state spend the month of April outside and bringing Nature inside!

The Benefits of Outdoor and Nature Play in Afterschool Programs

“In Afterschool, we have the children from 3:00 to 6:00 PM, prime time for outdoor play and we have a captive audience that we can explore the fascinating wonder of nature,” says Diane Genco, Executive Director of NJSACC.

Afterschool programs expand children’s connection with nature because quality programs bring children outside to play on a daily basis. Given more time than in-school recess, the lengthened outdoor play time during afterschool programs can promote exercise, expression and exploration. It doesn’t matter if the program is in the city, country or suburb; when outside, children can benefit simply from the sunshine, fresh air, bright colors of nature and the fluffs of clouds.

Nature exploration and outdoor play benefit children in many ways, including promoting physical and cognitive development, promoting positive behavior and education. Nature play assists in developing children’s visual-spatial skills, improves powers of observation and creativity and helps to improve concentration.

Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State Shines a Spotlight on Quality Afterschool

Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State is also a tool to build lasting public support for affordable, high-quality afterschool programs across New Jersey. Led by a public-private partnership, the events that Celebrate Afterschool help to build public awareness and support; offers guidance for parents, providers and advocates; strengthens relationships with policymakers, funders, and practitioners to share best practices.

Since the inception of Celebrate Afterschool! Outdoors in the Garden State, providers are doing more activities that connect children with nature and many programs have signed on toCelebrate Afterschool! joining in the weeklong Celebration with activities in their communities.

NJSACC developed an Event Planning kit to guide afterschool programs on how to Celebrate Afterschool with a sample Press release and invitation letters for community leaders and celebration ideas.

If you would like support in using the resource guide, planning an event or connecting to a community organization to partner for programming and field trips, contact: Sarah Cruz

Highlights from Celebrate Afterschool 2011

More resources and events for April’s Celebration:

The Children & Nature Network: Let’s G.O.! = healthy people + healthy communities

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