Middle school is an important time for young people as they transition from childhood into their teen years. Defining who they are in the world, practicing new social skills, and exploring their relationship to community are some of the life-changing tasks young people face in the years between eleven and fourteen. Middle school years are also a time when many young people teeter between alienation from academic studies and becoming life-long learners.
CitySprouts has two middle school programs: the summer youth program and the school-year after school program. These programs invite young people to engage in real world projects that develop their science, engineering and communication skills. They learn about food systems as well as ecosystems by growing, harvesting and eating food from the school garden. They strengthen their social-emotional skills to begin their teen years as empowered, active members of their community.
CitySprouts’ tuition-free summer program provides a unique opportunity for young people to learn firsthand about the natural ecology of their local environment, starting with the school garden. They learn the skills to grow food in the school garden and to prepare delicious, healthy meals from the harvest. They explore the intersection of ecosystems, food systems and social systems in their community in a month-long internship that culminates with youth-designed projects.
Our after-school program for middle school youth combines cooking, gardening and engineering as students explore how to create the perfect pizza, to design and construct hoop houses in the school garden or to plan and plant a garden. CitySprouts’ after-school clubs revolve around two key questions posed to students: what decisions do we have the power to make? Who do those decisions affect, and how?
CitySprouts’ middle school programs depend on several partnerships, including our partner middle schools in Boston and Cambridge, FoodCorps, Cambridge Youth Programs, and our corps of five college fellows recruited to support our summer program each year.