SAYA in Action!

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With the arrival of spring, SAYA is looking forward to the increased expansion of our in-person programming as schools begin to reopen. Since September, we have offered a combination of virtual and in-person sessions to our youth, and have continued to support their needs throughout this challenging time. We have greatly enjoyed the chances we have had to connect with our participants and coworkers face to face once again. Below are some of the recent highlights from our spring offerings.

Youth at one of our elementary schools have been getting their hands dirty exploring the world of STEAM. Since returning to in-person programming, they have been performing hands-on experiments such as planting flowers, testing if fruits float or sink in water, studying Polar Bears, and making their own lava lamps.

Our virtual middle school cohorts have been busy. One group is currently learning Computer Science and Programming, utilizing their STEAM skills to make things they code come to life visually and learning valuable skills such as creativity and collaboration.

In our middle school young women’s programming, our participants have been using virtual theater, improv, and other self expression activities to build their confidence. They have taken part in sessions covering storytelling and South Asian folklore, and several participants volunteered to lead a session on screenwriting.

Our high school site programming has been in full swing since the fall, with youth joining a number of in-person and virtual groups including the Page Turners book club, anime club, rainbow coalition for LGBTQ youth and allies, Red Cross club, and more. Recently, two of our cohorts collaborated to create and share a gallery of prominent figures and contributions from the Black community, in an effort to celebrate Black History beyond February.

At our community center, programming is continuing with both in-person and virtual sessions. Youth have been engaging in discussions surrounding the recent rise in Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate, and are participating in several self-defense classes led by the Center for Anti-Violence. They are also attending several sessions on sexual and reproductive health, led by our partner Planned Parenthood. Our young women’s cohort is also discussing the upcoming Mayoral election, while learning how to become involved in grassroots organizing and local politics.

With many schools still closed, a number of our college students have begun using the community center as a space away from home to finish homework, meet with peers, and receive support on assignments. Participants are also checking in with our program leaders, reviewing class selections and graduation requirements.

In partnership with the New York City Department of Education and the College & Career Planning Team, SAYA is leading two virtual workshops, offered in Urdu and Bengali, covering the college financial aid application process. In addition, our high school-based program offered several virtual FAFSA clinics for participants over spring break. Youth and their parents or guardians have been encouraged to attend these events to learn about the requirements for city and state applications.

We are grateful to our supporters for helping us to offer critical services to so many young people throughout 2020. Thank you for your continued commitment. Wishing everyone a happy spring!

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