By Anu Sharma, MD High School Program Coordinator
Photos courtesy of AALEAD Staff
This past Friday, youth from AALEAD After School programs across the Maryland region joined us in our office to participate in a fun and relaxing movie social. Youth selected a movie (“Mary and the Witch’s Flower”) to watch together with their peers and enjoy the afternoon with options around hot chocolate, ice cream, popcorn and various other snacks. By hosting community events for AALEAD youth outside of after-school programs, we strive to give youth additional space and opportunities to create a sense of belonging and feel connected with each other. The Maryland Fire & Ice Movie Social Event 2019 continues to honor that legacy!
“I have a chance to break out of my shell and talk to different people. I learn many things and always have a good time! I really liked watching the movie because I never watched it before, I also got to meet new people which made me happy because I think it’s fun being social towards different people!”– AALEAD youth
“I really like seeing new people, what makes me come out to events [like this] is that they sound really fun and interesting.”– AALEAD Youth
“You are not alone and it is refreshing to see new people.”– AALEAD Youth
More than ever, youth are in the midst of increasing societal pressure, fast-paced work-centric lifestyles, and the future of our environment as it continues to be impacted by climate change. Just last week, high school youth from all over the DMV area joined to protest gun violence and lead a climate strike by staging school-walkouts and marching together. The rising youth self-awareness, youth leadership and youth power is incredible, especially at a time when our world at large continues to overlook youth needs.
The space to slow down, to enjoy being together and relating to one another is one of the key opportunities we can provide for our youth in this moment. In today’s media, this might be defined as a part of self-care. In AALEAD, it is a culture that is already integral to our programming. While youth already engage in a multitude of activities around socio-emotional learning, leadership, and community issues during our after-school programs, it is something truly special when youth are able to create their own community space outside of school and feel like they are a part of something larger.
Stay tune next week to get an exclusive update on a special project AALEAD youth have been working on!