The AspireKids mission is to provide at-risk youth with scholarships for extracurricular activities. But why?
As I continue my research on the importance of extracurricular activities for kids I consistently find the same information over and over again. Structured extracurricular activities provide students with additional learning opportunities beyond what they receive in school. These opportunities include team work, work ethic, self-confidence, and more which lead to better grades, improved behavior and greater likelihood of graduating from high school and attending college.
In my own experience as a parent I have seen these things first hand. The connection to their community, their team or the cast of a play they are in, provide a level of accountability for a child that a parent can't offer. We may try, but their relationships with their peers are so important that children are much more likely to make sure they are doing their part for the community. Behavior and grades improve or are maintained at a higher level because they are required for participation and kids don't want to let down their team.
And let's not forget the coach, teacher or leader. Most kids want to perform for these individuals. They seek positive reinforcement and the way to achieve that is through hard work. The desire to work hard for a result carries over into school and the children's adult lives.
Individual activities like art and private music lessons may not immediately involve a community but the confidence built for the child by seeing their efforts turn into something beautiful is invaluable. Group art and music classes introduce the child to a like minded community with a common goal.
So, what's the problem? Children with lower socio-economic status are less likely to participate simply due to cost. Foster children have even less access due to cost and transportation requirements. Not to mention a lack of security in their environment and sense of community that a team or group can help to provide. These are the kids that need extracurricular activities the most but are the least likely to participate. These kids need a little extra boost in this world and AspireKids can do that.