Authored by: Lisa Whitehead, Afterschool Program Assistant
The Utah Afterschool Network held their 12th annual Jump Start conference for Afterschool Programs throughout the state of Utah on October 7th and 8th. This conference contained breakout sessions packed with information and resources to help create and maintain high quality day-to-day afterschool programs by facilitating proper behavior management skills, engaging enrichment activities, and other techniques that foster effective programming.
Over 60 Youth Services Afterschool Program staff attended the conference, which greatly exceeded the attendance of any prior year. Our staff was also engaged in participating in the conference. Several site coordinators presented a breakout session about creating community within afterschool programs, and the Kearns Jr. High program had the exciting privilege of receiving the Inclusion Program Champion Award. Three years ago, Kearns Jr. High accepted an offer to be one of the state’s pilot sites for participating in the KIT Program, with the end goal of offering fully-inclusive programs to all students. The KIT Program offers targeted training and make critical changes to the program to ensure that all students and families feel welcome and fully engaged in activities and services.
Kearns Jr. High was awarded specifically regarding their efforts for including a young student during the most recent Kearns Jr. High Summer Blast program. Tristan–a student who, despite physical setbacks, ultimately succeeded in participating in essentially every activity of the program due to the care of the program’s staff, and their ultimate goal to include everyone. Tristan and his family were present at the conference. It was a huge honor for our Afterschool Programs to be recognized in this way, and meat even more to have Tristan there to help the staff from the Kearns Summer Blast program to help celebrate their recognition.