In our first year of the program, we are offering four twelve-week cycles, one cycle per season. The first cycle kicked-off in the Fall of 2022. The second cycle will run through the Winter, ending in February 2023, followed by a Spring cycle and a Summer cycle this year. Participants can enroll at the start of each cycle and continue through as many cycles as they wish or need.
As a part of our preparation to open the Saturday Programming, BronxWorks engaged members of our communities in a series of focus groups to help determine the most requested needs from prospective participants. Throughout the Fall, BronxWorks Community Health Staff implemented five focus groups engaging adults with children. Questions were asked in both English and Spanish and focused on the groups’ immediate needs as well as their self-care habits and their goals. Based on the results from these focus groups, we confirmed the key areas for the Saturday curriculum to be Adult Education, GED preparation and support, ESOL, employment assistance, maternal self-care and infant health, and childcare services.
Adult Education classes are provided by our Workforce Development Department, which has a long history of helping adult learners achieve the necessary literacy skills to attain their GED. Adult Education Instructors teach reading and writing, mathematics, social studies, and science to each cohort. Students engage with the coursework and in discussions with one another during classes. The program also teaches effective strategies for mastering an academic curriculum that will prepare participants to earn their GED. Classes are offered between 9:30am until 1:00pm during each Saturday session, with additional tutoring and professional development workshops offered from 1:30pm to 2:30pm. During these optional workshops, participants can learn skills such as preparing a resume or cover letter to help them seek employment or apply for additional education opportunities.
Maternal Self-care and Infant Health
Expanding on the BronxWorks Maternal and Infant Health Program, Saturday Maternal Self-Care and Infant Health curriculum includes Nutrition 101, MyPlate: Basic Dietary Guidelines, diabetes education, cooking classes, recreational activities, as well as positive body image, stress management, safe sleep, and breastfeeding workshops. The goal of the overall program is to increase health equity and education for women and mothers to improve birth outcomes in the Bronx, and the expansion to Saturday encourages working mothers to participate with these important topics and resources.
“Our hope is that through a combination of nutrition education, wellness, relaxation, and self-care activities, mothers will be empowered to prioritize their own health, increase their confidence, decrease their stress, and model healthy behaviors for their families.” – Rachel Gill, Program Director, Community Health Programs.
The final key component of the Saturday Programming is the availability of on-site childcare services. BronxWorks Childcare Associates are available to work with children from 6 months of age up to 12 years. Our childcare services go beyond simply entertaining the children, incorporating age-appropriate activities and mirroring some lessons offered to mothers through the Maternal Self-Care services. The children are split into three groups according to their age. Activities such as yoga, nutrition education, and stress management education will be offered in an accessible manner for the targeted age groups, allowing parents and children to bond over similar activities and increases the likelihood that self-care activities become a part of these families’ daily routines.
“We wanted to reach participants who would benefit from a highly-curated weekend curriculum. We wanted to reach adult learners, parents, and mothers with young children,” says Eileen Torres, Executive Director of BronxWorks. “The provision of childcare during our Saturday sessions is essential to remove a common barrier to self-improvement for many parents, and allows our participants to thrive within this learning environment.”
Participants and staff alike have been enjoying the new Saturday Programming. As we approach the end of the second cycle, we continue to receive feedback from participants on how we can expand the weekend services to include even more recreational activities, guest speakers, and more.