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Discovery Zone After-School Program Contributes to Social and Emotional Learning

Discovery Zone at Linden Green

After launching the Discovery Zone after-school program at more than a dozen apartment communities in Virginia and Florida last year, Community Housing Partners (CHP) hoped that youth would gain self-awareness and important life skills. Now that survey results have been collected and Discovery Zone has entered its second year, CHP Resident Services is confident that the initiative is doing just that.

“Discovery Zone was our first attempt at a curriculum that unified our youth programs so that our after-school activities would have consistency regardless of the staff or community where they were offered,” said Tiffany Slusher, Director of Programs, who added that this also offered a better opportunity to study the impact of CHP’s after-school programs.

According to Slusher, children in last year’s Discovery Zone curriculum completed pre- and post-surveys which demonstrated significant gains in social and emotional learning. For example, only 36 percent of children said that they knew steps to make their future better before Discovery Zone. Within six weeks, 68 percent of these youth could identify these steps.

Similarly, 71 percent of youth reported knowing easy ways to show kindness to others prior to Discovery Zone. That number jumped to 83 percent after completing the program.

“Children are sponges, and they excel and dream and go after their goals when they are given a little help,” said Diane McElveen, Resident Services Coordinator at Parkside Garden Apartments in Ocala, Florida. “Discovery Zone is a way of opening the minds of youth and giving them a way to grow.”

The program launched in 2017 at 15 CHP apartment communities and offered children in first through sixth grade lessons and activities to help them explore and express themselves, their emotions, and their relationships with others. In order to help youth succeed in both school and life, the curriculum focused on literacy, social and emotional learning, and life skills—with a good dose of fun as well. (Read more about Discovery Zone’s launch in 2017.)

The following infographic highlights how Discovery Zone aided in social and emotional learning for youth participants: