We see the hours after school as a tremendous opportunity to fortify kids with the tools they need to succeed against the odds, stay in school and stay out of trouble. WINGS works with the toughest kids in the toughest schools, transforming each child through improved behavior and increased attachment to school and peers. We give kids the missing piece of their education and oftentimes, their home life.
The WINGS After School program differs significantly from typical youth development programs because it weaves a comprehensive social and emotional skills curriculum into a fresh and fun after school program for elementary school students. Everything we teach revolves around the five core competencies of social and emotional learning (SEL): self-awareness, self-management, responsible decision making, social awareness, and relationship skills.
WINGS’ approach to SEL is multi-pronged: we believe that when adults SUPPORT, ENGAGE and TEACH, students soar. So, the foundation of our approach is adult SEL skills and practices. Once adults comprehend and internalize these skills on an individual level, they are then able to transfer their skills and knowledge in their capacity as educators, mentors, and youth workers. The S-E-T framework provides the building blocks that allow adults to cultivate a culture of SEL through positive student support and engagement, and implicit and explicit teaching.
The core of our teaching is the WINGS Creed. We call the Creed the ABCs of WINGS: just like you learn your ABC’s before you read and write you have to learn and live the WINGS Creed before you become socially and emotionally smart. Simply, the Creed puts the five skills of emotional intelligence into kid-friendly language:
I soar with WINGS. Let me tell you why. I learn lots of skills that help me reach the sky.
I love and accept who I am on the inside and know my emotions are nothing to hide.
Life’s full of surprises that make me feel different ways. If I can control myself I will have much better days.
I understand the choices I make should be what’s best for me to do and what happens is on me and not any of you.
I understand others are unique. I want to learn more about everyone I meet. I want to step into their shoes and see what they are going through.
I am a friend. I support and trust. Working together is a must. Kind and caring I will be. I listen to you. You listen to me.
I soar with WINGS. I just told you why. All of these things are why I fly high.
Our curriculum includes 30 weekly Learning Objectives that are taught over the course of a full school year. Every lesson revolves around one of the five core competencies and each lesson builds upon the last. The Learning Objectives are taught through small lessons, integrated into planned group activities, and reinforced through spontaneous teachable moments. Teachable moments are a core tenant of the program and happen in real-time, all the time. Throughout the WINGS day, WINGS Leaders look for situations where they can teach or reinforce a Learning Objective in group or individual settings.
The program operates in Title 1 elementary schools. Each school enrolls an average of 150 students. Students are referred to the program by teachers and principals based on their struggles in school and lack of family support at home. Students attend WINGS after school for three hours, five days a week, at no cost to parents. Each student is assigned to a small group of 10-12 based on grade; we call this their Nest. Each Nest is led by a WINGS Leader responsible for the group throughout the year. College students are recruited as WINGS Leaders and serve as fun, relatable, role models for the kids. WINGS Leaders receive more than 65 hours of training each year as well as constant coaching and not only do the kids benefit, the WINGS Leaders grow and strengthen their own social and emotional skills, better preparing themselves for successful careers and personal relationships.
The components of the program time include:
- Community Unity: Each day starts with Community Unity where all the kids come together to have snack, hear the objective for the week, participate in games and activities, celebrate and encourage one another with awards, and recite the WINGS Creed together before breaking off into smaller groups and rotating through various centers and activities.
- Discussion: The WINGS Leader facilitates a small group discussion of the weekly objective.
- Academic Center: The kids get help with their homework and academic skill building.
- Choice Time: An enrichment activity that each child participates in for a full semester, for example: dance, art, lacrosse, soccer, music, cheer-leading, or cooking.
- WINGS Works: A community service project that the kids select and work on for a full semester.
- Freeplay: Time on the playground.