It's that warmest and sunniest time of the year again in Alaska, when the sun never sets, and the fun never stops; Summer Learning Week! National Summer Learning Week (July 8th-13th) is a national advocacy celebration aimed at elevating the importance of keeping kids learning and ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed. This summer thousands of Alaskan youth are participating in active, meaningful, and empowering summer programs across the state. These programs help maintain academic ability, get kids involved in their community, embark on outdoor adventures, or try something entirely new! Kids who regularly participate in summer engagement are less likely to experience summer learning decline and tend to have higher self-esteem and leadership skills. Additionally, quality summer programs narrow gaps in opportunity and give children a head start on the year to come.
This Summer Learning Week the Alaska Afterschool Network wants to highlight four diverse programs that have been working to bring summer opportunities to children throughout the state. We’d also like to thank the talented and amazing children who make the most out of summer programming, as well as the extraordinary afterschool professionals who make it all possible. We hope these highlights will demonstrate the importance and success of summer programs across Alaska.
If you’d like to learn more about Summer Learning Week or find out how you can get involved, visit the National Summer Learning Association website at:
There you can find tool kits and resources for getting involved in summer learning!
Anchorage Youth Court Summer Law & Leadership Camp; Anchorage, AK
A recent addition to Anchorage Youth Court’s long-standing diversionary programming, the four-week Summer Law & Leadership Program offers an opportunity for incoming ninth-graders to learn about the legal profession, the law, and their rights. VISTA volunteer instructors as well as guest speakers from Alaska’s legal community empower teens to stand up, speak out, and use their voices to make change. On any given day at the Law & Leadership Camp, youth can be seen learning about different aspects of the law, such as civil rights and employment rights, performing a mock trial, or even touring the FBI building downtown. The Summer Law and Leadership Program is taking the initiative to promote youth learning and provide an opportunity for students to study the law.
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RALLY Harborview; Juneau, AK
Children have opportunities to learn through play all year long in the RALLY program, a unique state-licensed childcare program within the Juneau School District. RALLY, which stands for Recreation, Arts, Learning and Leadership for Youth, operates all day during the summer. RALLY provides a secure, interactive, educational environment that fosters lifelong learners through exploration, social skills and leadership opportunities beyond the classroom.
RALLY offers a wide variety of fun and meaningful activities such as science projects, arts and crafts, outdoor play, and reading literacy to keep kids active both mentally and physically. Students ages five through twelve engage in a variety of educational play activities, learning cooperation, social skills, teamwork and more. Students also participate in a daily afternoon STEM curriculum time, which uses summer themes to teach STEM concepts. In addition, free breakfast and lunch are served to all students attending. “What I like best is making new friends and seeing my old friends,” says one third-grade student. Be it STEM principals or social/emotional learning, RALLY makes summer fun by enriching their students with quality summer education and helping them discover friendships that last a lifetime.
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Youth 360; Matanuska-Susitna, AK
Honing a keen mind isn’t just about memorizing facts or exuberant play. Social and emotional learning are also fundamental to a child’s development. Youth 360 is an initiative that connects local youth to their peers, parents and community to increase health and wellness throughout Matanuska-Susitna. The more connected a young person is, the more likely they will become happy, healthy, thriving adults. Social connection is linked to increased rates of health and well-being and reduced rates of bullying, suicide, and substance misuse.
Youth 360 builds these pivotal connections by providing positive, meaningful activities and opportunities for young people and their families. Sports and recreation, cooking, music, games, cultural activities, crafts, creative expression, hands-on learning, and STEM activities are just a few of the many possibilities available at Youth 360. This includes safe spaces and programs for youth to hang out and connect, internships, skills-based training, apprenticeships, and other activities based on interest. Youth 360 offers fun and interesting activities, family events, summer programs, and behavioral health services for kids across the Matanuska-Susitna region looking to connect with other curious, fun-loving kids.
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PCR Summer Playground Program; Unalaska, AK
In The Port of Dutch Harbor/Unalaska the city provides the Summer Playground Program for kids ranging in age from six to thirteen. For five weeks during Alaska’s beautiful summers youth go to a different park every day during the week, including three different parks around town. As the weather agrees along with the fauna and flora they hike, pick flowers and enjoy the berries and sunshine. They play games which include fox tail, spud, zombie tag and hide and go seek. Children have the opportunity to be a part of and discover nature right at home.
Expert recreation staff provide a wide variety of sports, crafts, and games all week long. The program does new and exciting activities every month, from weird science to Presidential Youth Fitness Challenges. Fridays they have gym time with an inflatable obstacle course, activities in the kids room at the Parks Culture and Recreation building, then walk across the street to our pool where we enjoy Friday splash. The Summer Playground Program reliably brings summer fun to children on the island.
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Summer time is the perfect season for unleashing that youthful sense of wonder and exploration. These outstanding programs stimulate new interests, inspire creativity, educate and expand children’s minds, build strength and resilience in safe and nurturing environments, and give kids a head start in the coming school year, and our state’s fantastic summer program professionals are dedicated to providing quality opportunities for learning and play.
Once again, if you’d like to learn more about Summer Learning Week, and about how you can get involved, visit their website at: https://www.summerlearning.org/summer-learning-week/
Thank you, and have a great summer!