The Takoma Park Recreation Department is once again offering its Morning Addition and Afternoon Addition programs this school year.
The programs, aimed at children ages 5 through 12, are designed to offer activities to children both before and after school that they may not otherwise experience.
At the end of Morning Addition, which runs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., the enrolled children are transported to school, provided that they attend either Piney Branch Elementary or Takoma Elementary. At the end of the school day, children participating in the Afternoon Addition program are picked up from those schools and brought back to the community center where activities last until 6:30 p.m.
Afternoon Addition has been directed by Carey Antoszewski, the recreation supervisor of the department, for the last seven years.
Morning Addition was created three years ago due to high demand from parents. According to Antoszewski, the programs are given their name and alternative spelling ("Addition" rather than "Edition") as they serve as additives to the standard school day.
Although many sedentary activities are available for kids enrolled in the programs, there is a special emphasis on physical action and pastimes that get the children's blood pumping as well.
"Not only do we have activities for everybody to participate in, we also have specialized clubs and activities that they can sign up for," Antoszewski said.
"Some of those include dance, sports, tae kwon do and swimming. We're possibly having gymnastics this year. Then we also go outside, and they have free play. We have kickball, soccer, basketball, volleyball — you name it."
Aside from conventional sports, the staff of Morning and Afternoon Addition also teaches the kids classic outdoor or physical games that they have never played before.
"What I've found out is that these kids don't know the variety of games that I played when I was younger," said Before/Aftercare Supervisor Dana Jackson. "When I introduce the games to them, they get so excited because they've never seen them before."
According to Jackson and Antoszewski, two of the kids' favorite games of this nature are called "torpedo" and "clean your room."
"They love clean your room," Antoszewski said. "It's a fun game … and it works on throwing and hand-eye coordination of throwing and scooping up balls. There's constant motion so their heart rate is always going. Every time they go to the gym, they want to play it and we have to convince them it's time to play something different."
The Morning and Afternoon Addition programs do offer kids the chance to use video technology — so long as it provides physical activity in some way. According to Antoszewski, they recently introduced Wii Tennis and Wii Bowling to the kids, and they also let them play Dance Dance Revolution.
"They get so into [Dance Dance Revolution]. They really do. You only have to move your feet, but they're waving their arms, and it's a sight to be seen," she said.
Last year, the program also adopted the NFL's Play 60 program, which is a health initiative designed to help prevent childhood obesity. According to Antoszewski, they enforce the idea of healthy eating, and "energy in, energy out — meaning paying attention to how much energy you are taking in versus how much energy you are expelling."
Although both programs currently hold a full roster of 55 kids, the recreation department is still putting children on a waiting list. If the programs can hire another staff member, it is possible that they will expand the capacity. For further information, contact the department at (301) 891-7290.
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