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--Jessie Rymph, Web Communications and Database Specialist

Keep that poufy pink dress away from my daughter!

by Emily Emerson, Professional Development Coordinator

On February 13th of 2011 I had a baby girl, Harriet Eulalie Emerson. Having had pregnancy difficulties, we were ecstatic to have a healthy baby. Cute, huh? (Top baby, covered in pumpkin).
When I was pregnant I was always intrigued by folks who would ask, “What is it?” My usual response was “Human we hope” with a smile. Sometimes I would add, “we are going to wait till the child is a teen so the child can tell us what gender it is.” I got some interesting responses.
That “what is it” is a question I have asked others many times and is frequently the first question that pops into our heads when we learn someone we care about is pregnant. And it is something most of us want to know. But why is it the first question?
I should make a confession right now; I am a feminist. Not to the exclusion of the other work I do on racism, heterosexism, classism and other oppressions, but in addition to. So thinking about gender is something I have continually done, in my personal life and my professional life. And now I have a little girl. Now I am experiencing first-hand the gender shaping of my child
Because my interests and work have predominately been with adolescents, my knowledge of gender-limiting societal expectations was very much focused on media and youth, peer relationships. What a shock it has been to delve into little girlhood…just shopping for clothes is an exercise in values…do I choose the beautiful pink dress that will look so sweet with her bright red hair or should I go with something more gender neutral? And why is it that people seem to assume a baby is a boy unless the child is covered in frou frou flowers and pink? Hmmmmm.
So our family makes choices. We dress her in all sorts of clothes. We provide all sorts of toys. And I tell her every day she is smart and strong. I am not sure what is right, but I do know I want her to have choices.
And I’ll admit I live in fear of the princess stage. It’s not just the frilly pink stuff that turns me off; it is the sexualization of toddlers, the unabashed consumerism and the dissuasion of the intellectual that really concerns me. I recently listened to KUOW’s Speaker’s Forum with Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie–Girl Culture. And it blew my mind. I like to think I have some knowledge of how gender expectations can limit children and youth’s personal expression and sometimes lead to violence and even suicide…but I hadn’t really thought about or frankly paid attention to the little girl culture that much.

 Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie–Girl Culture

by Peggy Orenstein

Pretty in pink

I was instantly interested when Peggy mentioned she her focus on adolescent girls changed when she became a parent of a girl. She threw herself into the toddler to tween world to better understand the dynamics of gender in the younger years. In the talk, she shares a study she reviewed: 2000 elementary school girls surveyed from the years of 2000 to 2007 showed that, through the years, there was an increase of intense concern about weight and appearance. Girls are being taught at a very young age that how they look is who they are and it is getting worse.
Peggy goes on to define “sexualization” as one or a combination of the following: when a girl learns that her value comes primarily form her appearance, especially looking hot OR she is held to a narrow standard equating physical attractiveness with being sexy OR she sexually objectives herself or is objectified, she judges her body by how she thinks it looks to others rather than how it feels to her OR adult sexuality is inappropriately imposed on her. One of the main drivers of this sexualitzation are the companies that sell childhood products. She found that one of these companies use pink for girls and blue for boys so as to double sales. If a family has a little boy then all the clothes, toys and gear must be blue.  Then the family has a little girl, well then they have to go out and purchase all new pink clothes, toys and gear.
Another astonishing tidbit I took away from her talk: Peggy visits a national toy fair. She walks into one company’s display that has a pink banner that reads “Beautiful, colorful and pink” and another that reads “Energy, heroes and power.” Guess which part of the room had the “girl” products and which have the “boy” products. 
And sure, a pink princess toy is not going to, in and of itself, sexualize my child. But the prolific messages coming from everywhere have an impact. Peggy shares that studies are showing as girls focus on appearance more and more they become at risk for multiple vulnerabilities for distorted body image, poor sexual choices, low self-esteem, etc.
Girls are being taught at a very young age that how they look is who they are and it is getting worse.
I could go on and on and I urge you to take a listen. I like her answers to the parenting concerns that she raises.  My main take away is, as a parent AND a Child and Youth Development Professional, that I limit and not censor. That I expand Hattie Lalie’s sense of what it means to be male or female and encourage her to question and challenge a binary gender paradigm.
Now, how do we do that in practice…I think there is a workshop somewhere in here…

"How are you, really?"

Only one teacher in my high school asked how I was doing and actually meant it. I'm not sure if any others asked, actually. She was my art teacher - a tiny woman with short, boyish hair and huge round owl glasses. She'd peer up at me, put her hand on my arm and ask, "How are you?"

"Fine," I'd blurt, avoiding eye contact and trying to pretend I was considering my drawing. In my junior year, I had been cranking out collages, unable to stop the tumble of ideas - mostly feminist stuff, anti-Barbie, anti-1950s housewife. I had been excited then, productive, angry, but excited to be able to express myself. And I was receiving recognition from the art teachers and my peers. I was good at this, which was surprising and felt great.

As a senior, when I made art, I was really slow and stretched each project out as long as I could. When I faced a blank page, I felt paralyzed. How could I take something from inside myself and put it out there for my peers to judge? I had a hard enough time choosing my clothes in the morning, which was how I was representing and packaging my identity to the world. (Yes, this was actually how I thought. It sucked).

Eastern Screech Owl ~  Red Morph I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety that fall. I felt like suddenly everyone was judging my every move, and simultaneously no one seemed to notice that I was trying to disappear into myself. Or if they noticed, no one asked me - except Mrs. Monroe. She was earnestly concerned with my feelings, so I avoided her like the plague. I was working so hard to keep my feelings intact, not to let myself cry, when this sweet little woman would show her concern for me with those owl eyes, I felt like a mouse. Cornered. "No, I'm fine" i.e. please leave me alone. Please don't give me the opportunity to cry.

Now I wish I could thank her for caring about me and explain that I was depressed. I didn't mean to be rude by avoiding her.  I wanted to please her by continuing to produce great work, but I just couldn't.

Maybe she should have taken me some place private to talk, some place where I could relax and tell her. Maybe she did, I don't remember. But I had my parents looking out for me, too, and I made it through.

I try to remember now as an adult to ask people how they are doing and mean it with all sincerity, because maybe I'm the only one.

For more information on teen depression, read this document What's Up: Information for Adults who Care about Teens from the Washington State Department of Health.

Love, Fear and Other Reasons For Math & Science Afterschool

by Jessie Rymph, Web Communications and Database Specialist

On Friday, we're offering a workshop to help you provide fun science and math activities afterschool.

As someone who avoided science and math like... a negative ion avoids a positive ion (is that right?)... I understand if you might be hesitant.

Read the list of reasons and emotions to teach science and math, and choose whichever ones appeal to you. This is not how I suggest you motivate the youth, but how you motivate yourself.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Science and Math Activities That Put the Fun Factor in Learning

9:00AM to 2:00PM

Registration is required. This event costs $40.
Located at School's Out Washington in Seattle.

FEAR: The National Security Administration recently stated that we don't have enough students in the pipeline to compete with other countries in the future. In other words, their spies are going to out-spy us. Behind every suave James Bond-type are a heck-uva lot of mathmatics code-breakers and gadget guys. Let's make sure we have enough of those guys (and gals) on our side.

NATIONAL PRIDE: (see FEAR) You also love your country and are saddened by how poorly our kids are performing compared to other countries. It's bad.

(see FEAR, FIT IN) In the 60s, we were trying to get to the moon before the Soviets. As a country our goals and enemies are more vague now, so it's up to you to come up with who you would be competing against. But I know you can kick their butt.

FITTING IN: Have you heard of STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math)? Omg, you haven't heard about STEM? It's, like, what everyone in the afterschool world is talking about. You should totally start offering STEM in your program, and you'll look really cutting edge. There's also a lot of funding out there, so you might be better poised for grants!

You want these kids to grow up and not have to worry about money. If you spark an interest in science and math for them, they are more likely to continue on college and a higher paying job. 

LOVE: (see MONEY) You want what's best for the youth in your program. You want them to explore learning for the pure love it. You would love to open their eyes to new ways of seeing the world, to explorations and questions and excitement and joy!

Make science and math fun for K-8? Get them to enjoy it afterschool? That sounds tough, but you can do it. Challenge yourself. 

Whatever your motivations are, the kids will be interested if it's fun.  Please join us for Friday's workshop!

Join Glen at Lake Chelan

by Glen Osborn, Training Director
What the heck is the Trainer Educator Conference? I know that teaching adults is sometimes no picnic, but I will have fun in the sun, meet or reconnect with other trainers from hither and yon, and learn a bunch at Lake Chelan May 14-16.  This 5th year of a grassroots gathering is a one of a kind event that blends adult learning, curriculum design and platform speaking skills with networking and pampering.  This is the only conference around that’s planned and put on by trainers for trainers.
Look how much fun we're having at the Bridge Conference! (That's me on the right and SOWA trainer Bob Maureen.) Now imagine we're at Lake Chelan....
We’ll bring together trainers from diverse backgrounds and experiences to explore and exchange ideas in the leader and instructor areas of expertise. Prepare to stretch beyond your current habits and explore new connections to enhance your practice.

You’ll also have small group opportunities to connect with experts in the field regarding lesson plans for adult learners, the new trainer approval process, networking to influence and make collective impact in our work. Come prepared to learn, grow, connect and have some fun, too!
Register before April 13 to save $50!

Made to Stick

by Jessie Rymph, Web Communications and Database Specialist

Blue Eyes, Brown Eyes

You have probably heard about a teacher who, the day after Martin Luther King, Jr. died, taught her all-white third grade classroom about prejudice and racism by creating a situation in which they experienced it. Jane Elliott divided the class into brown eyed students and blue eyed students and told them the brown eyed students were superior to the others. You should watch the phenomenal documentary, A Class Divided, on the PBS website to see how quickly the students’ feelings towards each other and themselves changed.

Elliott’s idea was brilliant and stuck with her students for the rest of their lives, because it went beyond an abstract idea to a feeling they experienced deeply. The blue eyed students also wore collars so they could be identified from a distance. The children say they couldn’t think of anything while doing schoolwork except for the collar. How can we use this type of sensory experience to teach other lessons?


Made to Stick

“It would have been easy for her to treat the idea of prejudice the way other classroom ideas are treated,” write Chip and Dan Heath, “like an important but abstract bit of knowledge, like the capital of Kansas or the definition of ‘truth.’” Their book, Made to Stick, teaches how to express our ideas in ways that our audience won’t forget.

I’m reading Made to Stick along with a few others here at SOWA and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to learn how to saysomething once and say it well. The book is filled with fun, illustrative anecdotes so it’s an easy read. The Heath brothers write about six factors that make ideas “sticky” and so far I’ve read about three: simple, unexpected, and concrete. If you read our e-newsletter or follow our Twitter feed, you must have noticed the amazing improvements!
I found a razorblade in my apple
No, not really, but urban legends are some of the stickiest stories out there. Here are some of the bubble-gummiest things you can learn by reading Made to Stick:
  • Why are the Japanese really out performing us in math?
  • How does the script of Trading Places relate to how I teach science?
  • Can you really return tire chains to Nordstroms?
That was me using “the unexpected” to lure you in. Now I’m supposed to keep you interested. Um… well, I still have more reading to do. Let’s just say the book is filled with examples of brilliant moments in education that we can all learn from like blue eyes, brown eyes.
Huge thanks to Josh Oakley, our Bridge Conference graphic designer, for recommending the book!

Racial Equity & the Achievement Gap – What's AYD Got to Do with It?

by Amanda Scott Thomas, Education Policy Director
As part of the Washington Afterschool Network (WAN) Meeting on March 2, we hosted a panel and dialogue to talk about racial equity, the achievement gap and the role that Afterschool and Youth Development (AYD) could or should play in these matters. I anticipated an interesting conversation but I have to admit – the panel did not go exactly as planned though I could not have planned it any better than what organically transpired.
Inspiring, thought-provoking, sometimes jolting sharing interspersed with soul-shaking laughter and passionate discourse is what you get when you bring a dynamic, expert panel together.
Dr. Thelma Jackson, veteran educator and champion for Washington kids, shared hard facts and truths with substance and unabashed style as only Dr. Jackson can! Engaged in decades of policy work, Dr. Jackson charged the AYD field to focus on policy work that brings about systemic change and to assign each child with equal value and equal voice.
Noah Prince, Partnership Administrator-Tacoma 360 and the 2001 Afterschool Ambassador for Washington State, spoke honestly about unearned access also known as “white privilege” as a white male steeped in social justice work, community building and positive youth development. Read Noah's description of the event below.
Louie Praseuth (left) shared his immigrant experience as a Southeast Asian raised in Seattle. Louie in his quiet, insightful and powerful way challenged the audience to “approach ignorance with questions” and stay committed to issues of equity and justice.
Former Assistant State Superintendent, Erin Jones, stressed an asset-based approach in dealing with the ‘opportunity gap’. Erin shared poignant, personal stories of her experience as a biracial teen, woman and educator that brought the issue home for many participants.
The panel presentation was followed by interesting and spirited comments and conversation amongst WAN members. It was evident that School’s Out Washington’s leadership and engagement of the AYD field on issues of racial equity is necessary and welcomed. I left the meeting drained and at the same time energized by the caliber of colleagues, partners and equity warriors in the room. I am blessed to be a part of an organization and a field that cares about the success of the whole child and all children. The dialogue and most importantly the work to create the spaces and systems kids need to succeed in school and life continues!

In the words of a Presenter: Noah Prince, Tacoma 360
"I had the honor of participating on a School’s Out Washington Racial Equity/Achievement Gap Panel with Dr. Thelma Jackson, Erin Jones and Louie Praseuth on Friday March 2nd at the Tumwater ESD. The discussion between panel members and audience was engaging, courageous and real. Issues such as institutional racism, policy change vs. programmatic chance, challenging colorblind ideology and building generational bridges between the civil rights struggle and the achievement gap struggle were all discussed with honesty and passion. It is so important to have critical conversations about racial equity within our educational system. It’s challenging because as afterschool care providers the group is able to bring a racial equity lenses to their work, but that doesn’t necessarily move the equity needle on the school day experience so we struggled and challenged ourselves to figure out what our role was in brining systemic change to the school district thru our programs which embrace social justice and equity. I look forward to more dialogues and aligned movement in the racial equity/educational excellence for all movement in 2012. Thanks for Amanda Scott Thomas and School’s Out Washington for hosting such a riveting event."

In the words of a Participant: Meka Riggins, Professional Development Program Manager; Washington State Child Care Resource & Referral Network
"I want to thank Washington Afterschool Network for approaching the topic of Policy, Partnership and Practice with such care, candor and passion. I was not aware of the difference between the opportunity gap and the achievement gap until Erin Jones and Dr. Thelma Jackson provided clarity on the subjects during our last WAN meeting. Dr. Jackson’s explanation about the disparity among children of middle-class white communities and lower-income, non-white communities led me to question my community’s level of commitment and investment in the success of “our” children. Erin Jones explained that the opportunity gap occurs when these same students do not have an equal chance at life’s opportunities. I appreciate Dr. Jackson for calling into question the structural failures of our education system and for challenging us to keep this issue in mind as we operate in our field of expertise on behalf of children. And it was emotional to hear Erin’s recent, personal account of facing challenges that our children face every day. And while they both seemed to be fighting for the same goal, they demonstrated that there are various avenues to change. I find that with every new piece of information I receive about out-of-school child care, I am introduced to a new twist in the landscape of life as a child, as a community member and as a parent. Thank you."

The Arts Rise Again for Seattle Public Schools

by Virginia Eader, School's Out Washington MSW Student Intern
It’s happening folks. Slowly but surely we are beginning to realize that our young people are getting short-changed by the intense focus on standardized testing and lack of creativity in public education.
On Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to attend the first of five Arts Public Engagement Meetings hosted by Seattle Public Schools and Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. The public meetings are providing parents, teachers, artists, community members, non-profit representatives, and youth a chance to come together and share ideas to help shape the Arts Plan in Seattle Public Schools. This is an important step in creating a more enriching and diverse educational experience for our young people. I encourage you to attend a meeting in your neighborhood and let your voice be heard!

Arts Public Engagement Meetings

Tuesday, March 13
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Ballard High School
1418 NW 65th St.
Saturday, March 17
1:00 - 3:00 pm
Garfield High School
400 23rd Ave.
Southeast Meeting
Translators for Spanish, Somali, Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog will be present.
Monday, March 19
6:30 - 8:30 pm
South Shore K-8
4800 S. Henderson St.
Southwest Meeting
Translators for Spanish, Somali and Vietnamese
will be present.
Thursday, March 29
6:30 - 8:30 pm
Chief Sealth International High School
2600 SW Thistle St.
Saturday, March 31
1:00 - 3:00 pm
Meany Building
(location of Nova High School
and Seattle World School)
301 21st Ave. E.
For more Information, check out the City of Seattle website and this video of the Arts Education Forum which took place last month. The Wallace Foundation, who is funding Seattle’s planning efforts, also has some great resources on Arts Education.

Talk to Your Principal about Ed. Levy

The City of Seattle’s Families and Education Levy Request for Investment is now posted on the City’s website.

Celebrating the Principal's Birthday with Flip Flops

In order for your program to be considered for funding through the levy, your principal needs to specify your program in their proposal. Also, organizations must be on the list of qualified agencies to receive more than $5,000 of levy funds.  Now is a good time to talk with your principal about her/his plan for the funding request. You can educate your principal on the positive academic and social/emotional outcomes that result from quality afterschool or expanded learning opportunity programs.

School’s Out Washington is here to help. We are happy to provide you with resources/research that will support your principal’s proposal. Please contact Emily Emerson for more information. Any questions regarding the request for investment itself will be referred to the city’s Office for Education.

Methods Workshop Series

Youth Program Quality Inititave

All regions of the Washington Regional Afterschool Project (WRAP) are implementing the David P. Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality’s Program Quality Intervention (PQI). Although the assessment component of this process required organizations to apply ahead of time,  some of  the Youth Work Methods workshops are open to the public. Please contact the WRAP specialistin your region to learn if you may attend.

These interactive and hands-on courses provide participants with practical skills that are geared to improve the quality of interactions with youth.

Use the chart below to decide which workshops you are interested in. Which region are you in? Click on the date to learn more and register. 

Central Northwest Southwest Northeast North Central Southeast
Active Learning

April 12,
East Wenatchee

Ask, Listen, Encourage

March 8,
East Wenatchee

Building Community

March 6,

Cooperative Learning

March 22,

March 22,
Mt. Vernon

Planning and Reflection

April 27,

March 12,

April 10,

Youth Voice

March 16,

April 23,


Workshop Description: Click on the title of the worksop to see a sample from the guidebook. To learn more about the Youth Work Methods series, click here to watch an interactive video.

  • Active Learning (Y/SA: II-H) Do you know the difference between active learning and “hands-on” learning?  Giving youth materials is just the beginning.  This interactive workshop introduces the “ingredients” of active learning, explains the role that active learning plays in the experiential learning cycle, and helps participants create more powerful learning opportunities for youth.
  •  Ask-Listen-Encourage (Y/SA: II-J) Do you communicate with youth in a way that makes them feel supported and heard?  This interactive workshop introduces various communication techniques that help you build more supportive, youth-centered relationships.  Participants will learn how to ask more effective questions, to listen actively to youth, and offer youth encouragement rather than praise.      
  • Building Community (Y: III-L, SA: III-M) Do you know what it takes to build an emotionally and physically safe space for youth?  Building an emotionally safe community of peers and adults is essential for youth to learn and develop as individuals.  This interactive workshop will introduce participants to a variety of activities designed to support the community building process.
  •  Cooperative Learning (Y: III-M, SA: III-O) Do the youth in your program have opportunities to work together in groups, teaching and learning from each other?  Cooperative learning is an excellent way to nurture youth leadership, build community, and keep things fun.  This interactive workshop will equip participants with grouping strategies and ways to think about building cooperative learning into any program offering.
  • Planning and Reflection (Y: IV-P, IV-R, SA: IV-Q, IV-T)Are you engaging youth in the critical life skills of planning and reflection?  Are you ready to be more intentional about including planning and reflection strategies into your daily routine and activities but not sure where to start?  This interactive workshop will introduce participants to powerful and easy to use methods that promote youth engagement in planning, implementing, and evaluating activities and projects.  
  • Youth Voice (Y: V-C, V-D, III-N, SA: III-O, IV-S) Are you providing young people with authentic, meaningful choices throughout your program?  Does your program reflect the input of the youth involved?  Research shows that quality programs incorporate youth input at both activity and organizational levels.  This workshop will emphasize the importance of offering real choices and meaningful participation to youth, and nurturing youth leadership.  This interactive workshop is focused on providing meaningful choice within activities and opportunities for youth input within the youth program itself.

(The text in this blog, except that describing SOWA or WRAP, comes directly from the Weikart Center's website).

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