Thursday, October 30, 2014

Save $10 on Rec & Ed winter sports for kids

Help your child stay active and have fun this winter!

Online registration is now open for Rec & Ed's winter youth basketball (4th - 8th grade) and indoor soccer (K-5) programs. Enroll by November 18 and save $10.00 on each registration. More information and link to registration here:

Rec & Ed's indoor soccer program builds skills and friendship.

Why do parents and kids alike love Rec & Ed's youth sports programs? We offer the kid-friendliest youth sports program in town! The focus is on teamwork, skill development and fun -- there are no try-outs or cuts. Join the fun!

Learn more and register here:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rec & Ed tennis program receives national recognition + sign up now for new youth classes

Rec & Ed's tennis program for youth and adults has been named "PTR Proud" by the Professional Tennis Registry, an international tennis instruction organization. 

The "PTR Proud" distinction means that 80% or more of Rec & Ed's tennis instructors have completed PTR certification training. Certified instructors are trained to run dynamic and engaging group lessons, keep the pace and level of learning comfortable yet challenging at each player level and employ a wide variety of teaching methods. 

"Rec & Ed is the only tennis program in southeast Michigan to receive this designation, and one of only three programs in the entire state," said Vanda Shadigian, Rec & Ed's tennis program supervisor and a long-time instructor. 

Rec & Ed's new 10 and Under program features PTR-certified instructors

Rec & Ed's senior instructors have always had PTR certification. When we launched our new 10 and Under program, we wanted to ensure our youth tennis instructors were trained to implement new USTA standards that involve age-appropriate modified court sizes, equipment and teaching methods. (See new youth classes and register here.)

Rec & Ed youth tennis participants
celebrate at the UM Varsity Tennis Center.

PTR offers workshops nationally, but not always in our backyard. To make sure most staff could attend, in May Rec & Ed hosted a national PTR 10 and Under Workshop and Certification training at the University of Michigan Varsity Tennis Center. 

"We're so proud that many of our Rec & Ed tennis staff hold multiple certifications -- Adult, 10 and Under, 11-17, and High Performance," said Shadigian. 

Register now for new youth tennis classes starting soon at the UM Varsity Tennis Center!  

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

4 things you need to know about poverty's impact on kids in Washtenaw County

Jenna Bacolor, Executive Director, Community Education & Recreation

While Washtenaw County students and schools, on average, lead the state on many achievement indicators, these numbers can mask the experiences of many economically disadvantaged kids in our county.  

This was the message at yesterday's Washtenaw County Community Health Committee meeting. Under the theme "Every Child, Every Day: A Portrait of 'At-Risk'" Youth," several speakers covered topics related to the physical and social-emotional health of students, with a focus on the economically disadvantaged. 

How many K-12 youth in our community are economically disadvantaged? 

First, the term "economically disadvantaged" means that the student qualifies for the Free/Reduced Lunch program or lives in a family with a household income less than 185% of the federal poverty limit. (That's about $43,567 for a family of four.) 

In 2012-13, of the 48,240 Washtenaw County K-12 students enrolled in public schools (including charters), 14,516 or 30.8% qualified as economically disadvantaged. 
Yes, that means almost one in three school-age children in our county are at or below the poverty line. 
Thanks to Naomi Norman, Executive Director of Student Achievement Initiatives at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District, who provided the stats and led a thoughtful discussion of this topic.

So what does this mean for kids who live in poverty?

Ashley Kryscynski, program coordinator at Washtenaw Alliance for Children and Youth, provided data from the WACY 2014 Report Card that shows dramatic differences between the county average for all students and the 14,516 economically disadvantaged students.  

These four gaps stood out to me from the school and graduation category. 
All data is from 2012-13. "ED" = Economically disadvantaged. 

  1. The county average graduation rate was 82.9%, but among ED youth was 66%.
  2. The drop-out rate for ED kids was 15.9%, more than double the county average of 6.1%.
  3. MEAP scores from students in grades 3rd - 8th show persistent 20-30 point gaps between the county average and ED youth. 
  4. The number of homeless youth in Washtenaw County has more than doubled in the past three years, from 611 in 2009-10 to 1316 in 2012-13. 
Do these statistics surprise you? Do they confirm what you already suspected or observed? 

In my opinion, most of us don't have a sense of how big the problem is. Many local residents also probably don't know the staggering impact that poverty has on school achievement and graduation rates for kids here in Washtenaw County.   

See the WACY 2014 Report Card and Presentation for more data on kids in Washtenaw County.

Of course, now the question is: what can we do to change this? 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Trike-a-Thon to support First Steps, Ann Arbor's early childhood development program

Bring your strollers, trikes or bikes to the inaugural Trike-a-Thon to support First Steps - Ann Arbor

First Steps supports all families of children from birth to kindergarten entry. Through parent-child classes and other programs, First Steps is dedicated to helping children develop optimally during their crucial first years of life. 

The First Steps - Ann Arbor PTO presents
Saturday, October 11
9:00 - 11:00 a.m.
Preschool and Family Center
2775 Boardwalk Dr., Ann Arbor 48104
Rain or shine
**The first 75 kids get a free t-shirt courtesy of IHA Child Health-Ann Arbor!**

All ages are welcome. Participants may raise funds by gathering pledges from their friends, neighbors and family. Donations in lieu of pledges are also welcome. Suggested minimum donation: $5.00. 

This is the perfect time to support First Steps! A generous anonymous donor will match all donations up to a total of $250. 

"The PTO is eager to bring together families for a fun-filled morning of triking and biking with bagels and bananas after," said Susannah Keller, co-president of the PTO.

A special course in the parking lot of the Preschool and Family Center will allow kids to practice their bike skills. Kids may ride around as many times as they want. Be sure to bring a helmet if you have one.

For more information to print out a pledge sheet, visit the Trike-a-Thon page. Questions? Contact Marj Hyde at (734) 994-4949 or

As a division of Community Education & Recreation and part of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, First Steps-Ann Arbor provides a high quality, affordable program for families with young children. 

First Steps' mission is to provide the information, support and encouragement parents need to help their children develop optimally during the crucial early years of life.

Please help us spread the word about Trike-a-Thon via your own social media sites.