|Catholic Charities’ CORAL afterschool program strives to improve literacy|
Posting Date: 06-19-2012
By Caitlin Kerk
Parents and siblings cheered students during the CORAL Dance Off, May 17, at Sylvandale Junior High School.
About 150 students from Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County’s CORAL afterschool literacy program participated in the Dance Off, representing 12 schools in the Franklin McKinley School District.
Competition included two divisions: one for kindergarten through third grade, and one for fourth through eighth. Each team performed one dance routine and one cheer routine.
“In addition to improving literacy skills and academic achievement, CORAL also tries to give students opportunities to grow, develop and shine,” said Sara Reyes, interim director of Children, Youth and Family Development at Catholic Charities.
“These dance competitions turn into huge events where the community gathers as one to cheer on their children and schools. Self-esteem, school pride, and healthier students are some of the many benefits that the dance component of our program provides,” Reyes said.
CORAL, which stands for Communities Organizing Resources to Advance Learning, increases literacy rates and bridges the achievement gap for at-risk youth through a literacy curriculum, dedicated staff of role models, and a collaboration of caring parents, teachers and volunteers.
CORAL is held from the time school ends until 6 p.m. every day that school is in session. Students receive a free healthy snack, 60 minutes of homework help, and 60 to 90 minutes of balanced literacy instruction as well as sports leagues, field trips, and science and art clubs.
CORAL is held at 22 school sites in the Franklin McKinley and San Jose Unified School Districts and serves more than 4,000 students each year.
CORAL provides a safe learning environment during afterschool hours, when juvenile crime as well as drug and alcohol use can be at their peak.
Ninety percent of all CORAL students said they feel safe while at CORAL and 92 percent reported that CORAL staff cares about them.
Students in quality afterschool programs have better academic performance, behavior, school attendance and greater expectations for the future, according to the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, 2000 reports.
In addition, students who spend no time in extracurricular activities are 49 percent more likely to use drugs and 37 percent more likely to become teen parents compared to students who spend one to four hours per week in extracurricular activities (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. Adolescent Time Use, Risky Behavior and Outcomes: An Analysis of National Data).
Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County is working to cut poverty by helping families and individuals acquire the tools they need to become more self-reliant.
The agency serves more than 39,000 people each year of all cultures and beliefs in Santa Clara County. For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesscc.org.
- The Valley Catholic
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