June 13, 2023

Elementary school aged kids in a dance classNever thought the arts could fit into health and wellness? With Y4Y’s new Health and Wellness for All course, you and your staff can encourage an attitude of well-being and creativity. Take notes from dance, movement, meditation, culinary arts, and more! 

Calm Waters

If you need a "first mate" to help you assess and support the health and well-being of students, families, and staff, Y4Y's Health and Wellness for All course will set sail to get you there. You'll get practical guidance to help every student develop lifelong skills and habits in nutrition, physical activity, and self-care. The course tools will help you plan, design, implement, and assess your health and wellness activities. From healthy snack ideas to physical activity examples to family engagement surveys and more, you’re sure to find inspiration for your program.

Imaginatively Healthy!

Research offers many reasons why establishing a good relationship with health and wellness now will set your students up for success in the future! See the Health and Wellness for All Research Brief for more facts; here are a few to get you started:

  • Good nutrition, physical activity, and stress reduction can improve learning and life outcomes such as academic success, life expectancy, and risk of chronic diseases.
  • Reducing stress positively impacts students’ social skills and mental energy.
  • Getting enough sleep helps people focus and pay attention, make decisions, manage emotions, and more.

Consider Incorporating some of these “imaginatively healthy” activities into your program and watch the results speak for themselves!

  • Ask a local museum to host a “museum race.” Pair your students up, give them criteria for recording information on the various art pieces, and see which group can record the most information! It’s a great way to increase heart rate and get some steps in.
  • Have students make a playlist of appropriate, calming music and use it as the playlist for a yoga or meditation session.
  • Bring culinary arts and film into the equation! Have students vote on a dish from a favorite movie, like the ratatouille from the movie Ratatouille, make any necessary dietary modifications, and prepare it together while watching the movie.
  • Show students that dance can be a fun way to get your body moving. Split students into teams, have them choose an appropriate song, and let them choreograph their own dance. You could even split it over the course of a few days and have each team teach the other teams their choreography!

If you and your staff place priority on infusing creativity and student wellness together, magical things are sure to follow. When students learn that Health and Wellness can be an artistic and creative reprieve from the doldrums of everyday life, they will be more likely to incorporate it into their everyday lives—now and well into their adulthood.


June 13, 2023

African American mother and daughter doing school project outside at a picnic table in the summer. They have a phone on a tripod to record.As the heat settles in, that beginning-of-summer excitement may be wearing off. Kick things up a notch with the updated Y4Y Citizen Science course! You might also take a cue from the IMLS STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Project to explore how STEM and the arts can intersect.

Science, wonder, and creativity have been interwoven into our lives since the beginning of time. Young children are natural scientists, always asking why and how, and always exploring new ideas. Using citizen science activities in your program can revive that early sense of wonder. To help you get started, see the Y4Y Citizen Science course. Learn to plan and implement exciting activities where young people use the same scientific process skills as professional scientists to contribute to real-world scientific explorations, connect with their local and global communities, develop critical learning and life skills, and explore college and career options. Take a look at our course tools, which range from student interest surveys to project rubrics, and include a Citizen Science Research Brief to help you understand the benefits for students.

What’s the Deal?

Here are some of the real benefits of incorporating citizen science into your program:

  • Students learn the scientific process in a hands-on way.
  • Students engage in authentic work that connects to the real world and holds their interest.
  • Students build 21st-century skills such as inquiry and collaboration.

Crafting Creative Scientists

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the U.S. Department of Education’s STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Project combines science and the arts through the concept of Making, which is “a broad grassroots movement that inspires young people to be creative, imaginative and inventive and offers new and powerful approaches to STEM learning.” Walden University lists some of the following as benefits of incorporating Makerspaces into student environments:

  • They provide hands-on learning opportunities.
  • Students can learn resilience through Makerspaces.
  • Students learn communication, creativity, and collaboration skills.
  • Makerspaces encourage educational equity by introducing STEAM concepts to a wide range of ethnicities and backgrounds.

Left and Right Brain!

Sometimes, science has a reputation for being “boring,” “rigid,” or “too left-brained.” So, the next time your staff or students exhibit apprehension towards the topic, show them that there’s no “right” way to do science, and that’s the beauty of it! With Y4Y’s Citizen Science course and inspiration from the IMLS STEM-Rich Afterschool Making Project, your students will no doubt be excited about this artfully infused way to learn.


June 13, 2023

block stacked to look like a staircase with the arrows pointing up stepsThroughout history, humans have demonstrated an intrinsic urge to create, and then to improve on existing innovations. We went from a horse and buggy to a Model T, from a lantern to a flashlight, and from sundials to alarm clocks on our wrists. If we foster creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, the results often improve our lives. Fortunately, we can’t seem to leave well enough alone. How often do you apply that kind of thinking to your program? Well, it can be daunting to think about how you’d “innovatively improve” if you don’t quite know where to begin. Thankfully, Y4Y’s newest Quality Program Quickstarter module, Continuous Improvement, enables you and your staff to set goals, observe progress, and monitor problems so your program flourishes to the next level.

It’s a Whole Process...

During continuous improvement planning, you and your staff may ask these questions:

  • How will we know if we’re meeting the needs of our students and families?
  • What data will tell us whether we’re on track?
  • Is there a way to make sure we implement activities with fidelity?
  • Is there a tool we can use to illustrate our plans and guide our work?

Like anything worth doing, it’s a whole process. But thankfully, it’s completely doable with a continuous improvement plan! Think of this plan as the trail markers that keep you on the right path. Just like it’s helpful to check in with nature and recenter your mind, applying a continuous improvement process helps you regularly assess your goals, outcomes, and implementation practices. This QPQ presents five steps:

  • Define
    • Do this first to give everyone a clear understanding of the purpose and goals of your program.
  • Implement With Fidelity
    • How will you know if your program is meeting its goals if you don’t regularly check in? This Implementing With Fidelity Guide will get you on the right track.
  • Collect Data
    • Program directors who work from solid evidence often make better decisions about sustainable changes. This Data Tracking Packet will help with data collection.
  • Analyze
    • Analyze your data to answer the question: “How are we doing?”
  • Improve
    • Use the data you collected to celebrate your progress and plan any necessary improvements!

The Nature of Change

Change can be unsettling, but humans have proved we’re good at adapting! With Y4Y’s Continuous Improvement QPQ, you can combine change, consistency, and good old-fashioned facts and figures to create a program that is sure to be ahead of its time.