It's 3:55 p.m. and B-SAFE is swarming with the organized chaos of pickup. Counselors sign students out to their parents, teens hand out grapes and goldfish, and Sandy returns clothes and water bottles to their owners. But unbeknownst to many, B-SAFE is not over for the day.
In a few minutes, parents begin filing in, laughing and greeting one another. It's time for Zumba class! On Tuesdays we have yoga for parents and on Thursdays we have Zumba. These biweekly classes offer parents a fun and relaxing respite from their daily routine. They're an opportunity to connect with one another and to get moving. In fact, we chose to do yoga and Zumba because our parent group voted for them!
We pump up the music, hit songs like "Despacito" echoing off the walls of the church basement. Our teacher, Hannah, dance-steps to the side and kicks her leg high in the air with the beat. Everyone else misses the kick and starts laughing. Soon we're all sweating, getting into the music. Some of the kids run in from childcare and join us for a song or two. A particularly excited 5-year-old begs Hannah to let her lead a dance, so after we're done Hannah lets her put on her requested song, Justin Bieber's "Sorry" and she leads us all in a baffling but energetic dance.
After we're done, we bring out trays of fresh pineapple, mango, melon and berries. Everyone is chatting, discussing the best places to go swimming this summer. A mom asks who wants the bike her kids have outgrown. It's nearly 6 p.m. and I'm late for another meeting, so I let the parents know they can turn the lights out and shut the door when they're done. Clari smiles at me: "No te preocupes, estamos en nuestra casa," she says. "Don't worry, we're at home here."
Ariel Branz, Lead Parent Organizer
Ariel organizes parents at St. Stephen's Youth Programs and is excited about all the fun family engagement this summer. She likes hiking, cats, sweet potatoes, and summertime.