The city and other groups in Wrangell are offering activities to 12 to 18-year-olds during the school’s winter break.
Parks and Recreation Director Kate Thomas says school provides some much needed structure and social interaction for kids, something they may be missing during winter break.
“So this creates a space for kids to be engaged with their peers, interact with adults that they might not get to spend very much time with that could be positive influences in their life,” Thomas says. “And just keep them off their phones and out of their own heads for a little bit of time.”
The new program came out of concerns from the school district. The district came to the city describing the struggles it believes its students are facing. This can range from feelings of isolation and lack of self-worth, to food insecurity and exposure to violence.
High School Principal David Macri says he sees students act out. That kind of behavior is enough reason to incorporate more social and emotional learning, also known as SEL.
“Where we can teach them some skills such as how to communicate with one another, how to cooperative with one another, some conflict resolution skills, ” Macri says.
Still, the program is in no way exclusive to kids dealing with stress. Over the course of two weeks, kids will have plenty of opportunities to swim, run, play games, watch movies on the big screen, and snack. The city, local church groups and Alaska Crossings are hosting these events.
The program runs from December 20 to January 4, with no activities on Christmas Day or New Years Day. A complete schedule of events is available through Wrangell Parks and Recreation.
The secondary school will also roll out new after school programs at the beginning of the new year.