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Boys & Girls Clubs’s program to teach English gets global award

S.T.A.R. (Students Taking Action and Getting Results), a program run by nonprofit and community-based organization Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) to eliminate barriers in learning English as a second language, received the Promise Award from the World Federation of Youth Clubs in recognition of its best practices for youth development, innovation and outcomes.

As part of the award, the program got a grant of $1,250 to strengthen its operation in the four BGCPR service centers where it is offered: Luis Llorens Torres (San Juan), Aguas Buenas, Loíza and Bayamón.

“This recognition has a special meaning because it also celebrates the strength and ability of our children and youth to overcome,” said Olga Ramos-Carrasquillo, president of BGCPR.

“The implementation of S.T.A.R. started in August 2021, when our participants were still dealing with the new reality brought by the coronavirus pandemic. The desire of our children to learn English as a fundamental factor to achieve success, added to the commitment, creativity, and professionalism of our English teachers — led by Professor Keysha Rodríguez Alvarado — created the perfect formula for the participants to continuously improve their proficiency in this language,” she said.

“This is what the comparison of the pre- and post-tests results of our participants revealed about the program,” Ramos-Carrasquillo said.

In its first year of implementation, S.T.A.R. has benefited 283 participants: 58% ages 6-12 and 42% ages 13-18. The program is designed to integrate with BGCPR’s after-school and summer programming and is tailored to the needs and wishes of the members of each Club.

At the Boys & Girls Club of Aguas Buenas, where there is great interest from Club members for STEM careers, the program focused on English proficiency to achieve better opportunities in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

During the past BGCPR Summer Program, all S.T.A.R. participants visited an ice cream popsicle shop and ordered in English as part of the program to empower them in the use of this language to understand its concepts and communicate effectively with others, the nonprofit explained.

“Our programming has moved toward the methodology of learning by playing and S.T.A.R. shows that our children and youth and adults can learn while having fun and developing in our spaces,” she said.

“After so many difficult events they have had to endure for the past five years, even now with Hurricane Fiona, this approach will be key in our mission to close the learning gap and attend to the emotional well-being of our families so they can reach their academic, personal and professional goals, as well as achieve economic mobility,” Ramos-Carrasquillo said.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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