Thanks to BCBSMA we are expanding our afterschool locations!

Farrington Nature Linc was recently a recipient of a Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Living Grant to provide 5 new afterschool locations for our Explore Program.

With their support we were able to expand to provide a total of nine afterschool locations during Fall 2018. We’ve been busy working with youth in grades JK-6 at schools in Cambridge, Somerville, Boston, and Framingham.

Through our Explore afterschool programs, kids engage in 8-week cycles where they meet for one hour per week with a Farrington staff member to investigate topics like birds, water, trees, and squirrels. They use parks and green space near their schools, getting to know nature near them from a whole new angle. The goal is nature immersion and connection.

Our partner sites this Fall have included the Morse, King, Fletcher-Maynard, and Kennedy-Longfellow Community Schools in Cambridge; two YMCA-run programs at Prospect Hill Academy Charter School locations in Somerville; and the Rafael Hernandez School’s nonprofit, bilingual After School Program in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood. The last week of November we started up two new partnerships with the Barbieri and Wilson schools in Framingham.

For all our afterschool programs we creatively utilize a wide range of green spaces, all within a 15-minute walk of the site, ranging from the banks of the Charles River and local ponds; to smaller city “pocket parks” with grass and trees; to community gardens; to Franklin Park, coined the “crown jewel” of Franklin Law Olmstead’s Emerald Necklace in Boston.

Nearly all of our Explore afterschool partners have also visited Farrington’s property in Lincoln for field trips, whether amid their Explore cycle this Fall or previously during summer or school vacation week. This allows them to compare plants and animals they see in their local green spaces with those they discover at Farrington, as well as transfer skills, knowledge, and inspiration.

For example, students from the Hernandez School built large forts in Farrington’s Pine Forest; the following week when back at Franklin Park in Roxbury for their Explore Club, they turned their assignment to create a bird’s nest from natural materials into an opportunity to build a nest-shaped fort.

Weekly activities draw upon a range of modalities, engaging all types of learners and involving the five senses. Groups may participate in guided nature walks; scavenger hunts; time with binoculars; journaling; nature-based arts and craft projects; gardening; games; and more.

 We’re looking forward to continuing to build relationships and experiences with youth from our partner programs throughout the rest of Fall, Winter, and Spring!

Wendy Matusovich