Hidden Potentials Starts CONNECT Program
There’s a new alternative coming for middle and high school students in Brevard County to fill the after-school gap between the last bell and dinnertime. When that time rolls around, students are left with few places to go and activities to do.
Research has shown that students who participate in after-school programs have better grades and better school attendance, ultimately resulting in better preparation for the future. Many families with middle school students, especially those with special needs, have asked for after-school programs that provide a safe, fun, and enriching environment. In 2015, that need will be met with Hidden Potentials’ upcoming CONNECT program.
A Necessary Lifeline
Hidden Potentials is an educational organization that serves individuals with special needs in Brevard County, creating a lifeline for parents that otherwise might not have options for their child. The organization was founded in 1996 by its current executive director, Kathy Clinton, and its mission both then and now is to help individuals with special needs function better in their homes, communities and school environments.
Hidden Potentials fulfills that mission through its services to nearly 500 children and adults with a broad range of intellectual and physical needs. Hidden Potentials’ tutoring program provides academic services for children and youth in grades K-12, many of whom are at-risk and/or low-income, in reading, math and science to improve outcomes, including reaching and maintaining grade-level work.
The organization has grown to expand services to all students from SAT/ACT preparation classes to teaching young children to read, and everything in between. Tutors are available to come to students’ homes and work with the child one-on-one to achieve solid academic gains and create more confident students.
The CONNECT Program
Looking to fulfill an unmet need and to better support strong families and communities, the CONNECT program was started to provide an alternative solution for the after-school gap.
“Families in Brevard are often in need of after-school care to enable both parents to work. This translates into a large number of children who come home to empty houses. There is a tremendous need for after-school programs for middle school students and the community is crying out for these programs to be inclusive for special education students. There are very few enrichment opportunities within the community for middle school students and community stakeholders have shown overwhelming support for our CONNECT program,” said Monique Todd, educational program director.
Through the program, Hidden Potentials develops activities with the input of the school stakeholders to create after-school learning opportunities that are unique to each site. Principals, student organizations and parents are given a list of possible enrichment classes, which will allow them to choose the activities they feel meet the climate of their child’s learning. A sampling of enrichment classes include: community service, book clubs, after-school newspaper, mentoring opportunities, fine arts, sports, music programs, and more.
The program will run at local churches or community facilities within walking distance from each middle school from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. and will also include a morning program from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Every eight weeks, the students will host a “Celebration Assembly” to highlight what they have done in that quarter. At that time, sponsors of the program will be highlighted to hundreds of parents and family members.
The first two sites launched in December at Jackson Middle School in Titusville and Kennedy Middle School in Rockledge. The program funding is assisted by business sponsors, which currently include Community Credit Union, Duron Smith A/C & Heat and Sam’s Club, Cocoa, who help keep costs low for families.