Health and Physical Education
Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students After School Program (BUGS)
The Baltimore Urban Gardening with Students (BUGS) Program works with children from under-served Baltimore City communities throughout the year with an after-school program as well as a summer program. The program's primary goal is to empower and inspire our children to develop academically, creatively, and socially.
The BUGS program serves students from Commodore John Rodgers Elementary and Middle School in East Baltimore. Many of our students reside in public housing and low-income neighborhoods near the Baltimore City Detention Center. These students have little access to green space and few extra-curricular activities available to them. The program engages youth in learning while providing them with a safe and healthy alternative to the streets.
BUGS is a national model program that uses activities such as cooking, gardening, creative arts and movement, and entrepreneurial projects to help increase academic performance in reading and math and improve student behavior. The program provides a dynamic learning environment at Living Classrooms East Harbor campus, with access to vegetable and flower gardens planted by the students, and the only wetlands on Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Our 1:10 instructor/student ratio provides youth with the close attention they need to succeed socially and academically.
P.O.W.E.R. House Field
Living Classrooms lead a major effort to significantly upgrade a neglected playing field at the 3.2 acre City Springs Park at 1600 East Baltimore Street. The project received major funding from Recreation and Parks and the National Football League. The park currently includes a swimming pool, a football field, and a community garden.
Patterson Park Youth Sports Complex
Living Classrooms Foundation is constructing a sports facility in Patterson Park serving disadvantaged youth from area schools that do not presently have facilities or athletic programming. The Patterson Park Youth Sports Center will include a new, multi-purpose, turf field located on the site of what is known as Utz Field in Patterson Park, and include a newly constructed Learning Pavilion and educational building that will house classrooms for activities and programming year-round, including academic support, physical education and activity, nutrition education, provision of healthy snacks, and anti-gang and drug workshops.
Safe Streets is a public health campaign to reduce shooting and homicides in several East Baltimore communities, where homicide is one of the greatest risk factors for teenagers and young adults, ages 14-25. The core strategy of Safe Streets is to engage community stakeholders in planning and carrying out community activities, public responses to shootings and homicides, and mobilization of residents to take the streets back from criminals and gangs. Living Classrooms, the Baltimore City Health Department, and East Baltimore service organizations and religious communities have created a coalition to put this organized strategy into action.
In addition, Safe Streets employs Outreach Workers to go into the community and recruit troubled or adjudicated youth to be a part of the program. Outreach Workers provide appropriate connections and referrals to clients including but not limited to GED and job-training programs, professional counseling (individual and family), transitional housing, and health and family services. Some of the Outreach Workers are ex-offenders, and are able to establish rapport with these high risk individuals, provide support services, and connect high risk clients to positive alternatives.
BeMore Athletic Program
The BeMore Athletic League (BAL) provides quality, safe and positive interscholastic competition for over 400 middle grade students in Baltimore City. The league provides school leaders (executive directors, principals, athletic directors) the opportunity to provide interscholastic sports at their school at minimal cost and time to their teachers and coaches. Currently, BeMore Athletic League connects 15 schools through soccer, flag football, basketball, track & field and lacrosse.
Background: Currently, 38% of Baltimore City Middle Schools do not offer consistent after school sports and close to 50% do not offer more than one after school sport option.
After school sports offer many positives for the students in Baltimore City:
- Fight obesity and related illnesses. 30% of K-8 children in public schools are over-weight and at risk of developing illnesses that will prevent them from living a full healthy life (Whiffen, 2009). Increased physical activity can help students reach and maintain healthy lifestyles.
- Improve academic performance. Research has shown that physical exercise and involvement on sports teams has a positive effect on children's ability to do better in school.
- Boost attendance and reduce truancy. After school sports reduces the rate of absenteeism. Furthermore, students who are involved in fun, safe, after-school programming miss less days and have higher grade point averages than their peers.