Cook the Change YOU Wish to See in the World

By Adam Aronovitz, Education Director and Co-Founder at The Cookbook Project

As I stood in the bright cafeteria at Blackstone Elementary School watching ecstatic 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders investigating the geographical origins of tomatoes, chili peppers, and cucumbers, I realized I was watching a dream come true.  I traveled around the world for the past five years on a mission to solve the greatest public health crisis on earth. Across Latin America, Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia, I lead health education programs with communities at-risk for obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related chronic diseases. However, standing in my home city I realized the most important programming was happening right in my own backyard.

My name is Adam Aronovitz and I am the Education Director and Co-Founder of The Cookbook Project (CBP), a global health education non-profit based in Boston. That afternoon at the Blackstone was particularly inspiring because the roots of CBP began to flourish when I was a teacher in the Boston Public Schools. Many of my students in East Boston had recently emigrated to the U.S. Their families made incredible sacrifices to come here, leaving their homes, families, and businesses behind to come to this country.  They were also leaving behind their food culture.

When they arrived in the U.S. they adopted the standard American diet, which is largely comprised of processed foods, animal proteins that are high in cholesterol (only found in animal foods) and saturated fats.

Food Consumption

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, unhealthy eating and inactivity causes between 300,000 and 580,000 deaths every year, which is almost equal to the number of annual deaths caused by tobacco.

I believe education, food literacy, and cooking skills represent the central path to sustainable health. Alissa Bilfield, fellow CBP Co-Founder, and I built a multidisciplinary health and cooking education experiential curriculum and launched programs as The Cookbook Project.

The most important thing I’ve realized between then and now is that a successful health educator does not need to be an expert in nutrition! Anyone has the capacity to learn how to implement this curriculum in their communities or even in their own homes to get youth excited about cooking healthy food and taking charge of their own health. That’s why I was so thrilled to see City Year Boston’s National Grid team serving at the Blackstone implementing the curriculum with a diverse group of students.

To date, we have trained 400 local leaders as Food Educators in 35 states, and 20 countries on 6 continents to implement the CBP curriculum in their own communities!  Students leave CBP workshops feeling empowered to start creating edible masterpieces in their own kitchen. Data from our pilot Curriculum Impact Study has shown that students participating in CBP programming are:

  • eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains,
  • eating less added sugar and processed food,
  • eating more home-cooked meals,
  • drinking more water,
  • exercising more,
  • sleeping better,
  • better able to focus in school.

We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to pilot a program with City Year Boston this winter and see CBP programs in the Boston Public Schools with amazing support from the Barbara Lynch Foundation. We invite any and all City Year and AmeriCorps members (and interested parents/community leaders) across the country to apply to become Food Educators today and change the world, one meal at a time!

Please visit our website for more information about joining our global movement!

 

Collaborating With The Cookbook Project

By Denys Godwin, corps member serving on National Grid team at Blackstone Elementary School

Smiling FruitIn four words, one student at Blackstone Elementary School eloquently summed up the idea of the Cookbook Project (CBP): “Food gives us feelings.”

This semester, in collaboration with the Blackstone, CBP, and the Barbara Lynch Foundation, our team incorporated a lesson plan from the Cookbook Project curriculum each week during our extended day program. Thus far, students have made their own recipe books, learned the difference between whole foods and processed foods, and created their own fruit salads.

Recently, we were lucky to have CBP’s co-founders, Adam Aronovitz and Alissa Bilfield, visit and teach our students about the origins of different ingredients.

“It’s about educating students, especially in urban areas with higher immigrant populations, to empower them to take back control of their food,” Aronovitz said. “A lot of times we see people give up control over what they eat to fast food restaurants and processed food makers, and we want to fill that knowledge gap. We also want to teach cooking skills, so that young Americans can learn how to make dishes that connect them to their cultural heritage.”

During their visit, students played a game called Spice Trade—where they guide a blindfolded classmate to find a spice jar. After this game, the students moved to a larger space. In each corner of the room, corps member held signs reading either, “Europe,” “Africa,” “Asia and the Middle East,” or “The Americas.” When a food item was called, student had to move to the corner where they think the food originated.

For chocolate, Aronovitz stretched the learning a bit farther. When the students made it to the Americas corner of the room he asked, “Where in the Americas do you think chocolate is from? What country?” He took a few answers, then said, “Actually, it’s Mexico! So if you like chocolate, say, ‘Thank you Mexico!’”

The students called out, “Thank you, Mexico!”

After that activity, the students returned to their desks, and wrote a story about how an ingredient such as chocolate might have made its way into other parts of the world. Our 3rd grade students, we wrote a story about how Adam the lumberjack from Spain went to Asia to chop trees. While there, he found an apple tree, ate the apple, and brought the seeds back to Spain. Juan*, another 3rd grader, volunteered to act out the whole story as it was read aloud to the group.

The students were sad to see Aronovitz and Bilfield leave, but every student went home with the knowledge that the world of food was bigger and deeper than they had known before.

To learn more about the Cookbook Project, check out our blog on Friday. CBP Co-Founder Adam Aronovitz guest writes to tell us more about their program.

* Name changed to protect student’s privacy

 

Teacher Appreciation: A Tasty Twist

By Anja Filan, corps member serving on the Bank of America team

Whether it be teaching their classes, conferencing with parents, planning lessons, or meeting with students during lunch and recess, teachers are constantly on the move. Because we all know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, what better way to thank teachers than by providing them with a well-balanced, healthy start the day?

Overnight Oats are easy to make and filled with fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and, most importantly, are absolutely delicious! Below is the recipe for this healthy, hearty, and delicious breakfast treat—a perfect entrée for a teacher appreciation breakfast!

Chocolate Cake Batter Overnight Oats
(Adapted from Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth)

Photo by thebittenword.com (source: flickr)

Photo by thebittenword.com (source: flickr)

2 cups whole rolled oats
2 cups almond milk (or milk of your choice)
4 ripe bananas
4 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp maple syrup, honey, or agave
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Mix all of the ingredients until blended; then, leave in the fridge overnight. When you take them out in the morning they’ll be a bit more dense and solidified, and should resemble oatmeal. You can either warm them on the stove for 10 minutes on medium-low heat, or eat them cold.

Don’t have chia seeds? Not to worry! You can add flax seeds, hemp hearts, or leave out the seeds all together. Sometimes, I add toasted sunflower seeds, walnuts, pecans or almonds for a little extra protein.

If your school is a nut-free environment, you could substitute dates, figs, or apples! The great thing about Overnight Oats is that variation possibilities are endless. Adding fruits, seeds, nuts, berries, or sweeteners of all sorts will not change the consistency and will allow you to put your own special touch on your breakfast creation!

A strong breakfast packed with protein, carbs, fiber, and Omega-3’s will give your teachers a powerful start to the morning. What better way to express gratitude than providing your teachers with the tools to kick-start their day with some power foods!

About the author:
Anja Filan is a 2013-2014 corps member serving on the Bank of America team at Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School in Mattapan. 

Mr. McDonald: A Dedicated Educator

By Lucas Holmes, corps member serving on the PTC team 

Photo by Elliot Haney | 2013

Corps member helping a student sound out a work. Photo by Elliot Haney | 2013

“You have two minutes to focus,” Mr. McDonald tells his students in the hallway before entering the classroom. Consistent and clear expectations are one of the keys to Mr. McDonald’s success as an English as a second language (ESL) teacher at Dearborn School.

With a large percentage of ESL students attending Dearborn School, Mr. McDonald fills a significant and much needed role for the school. McDonald recognizes this, working tirelessly to improve the English of these English language learners.

Having the privilege to serve alongside Mr. McDonald this school year, I am fortunate to get to know him and his students. Patience, positivity, and warmth emanate from Mr. McDonald in the classroom, and students respond with an equal amount of respect and focused energy. Although Mr. McDonald’s students face a unique challenge compared to their native English-speaking peers, Mr. McDonald sees their potential to learn as equal, if not greater.

Mr. McDonald’s faith in his students was evident at the beginning of the year when Mr. McDonald worked with them to set an achievable goal of growth for their reading. Instead of setting a goal based on experience from teaching previous years, Mr. McDonald asked the students how much they wanted to grow by the end of the year and let the students decide on the number of words per minute (WPM) by which they wanted to improve.

The students eagerly set their own ambitious goals. With some guidance, Mr. McDonald and the students agreed on the goal of growing 100 WPM by the end of the year; a goal that Mr. McDonald knew would be a challenge to achieve, but certainly possible if the class worked extremely hard. With the students’ goal in mind, Mr. McDonald crafted expectations and lessons to help students meet their goal, requiring 20 minutes of reading per night.

To keep students accountable, Mr. McDonald visually displays the WPM of each student for each beginning and end of month to track the progress of his students. The growth of the class is apparent, but the display also shows that growth does not come easily.

Even though the rate of growth may not be on pace for the end goal of 100 WPM, this should not be a reason for discouragement. Students are encouraged by the fact that they set high expectations for themselves; it means they were willing to risk failure for the sake of pushing themselves to grow as much as they can. Regardless of whether or not the students reach their goal at the end of year, surely Mr. McDonald and I will be proud of the progress that they make.

About the author:
Lucas Holmes is a 2013-2014 corps member serving on the PTC team at Dearborn School in Roxbury. 

Sharing Values with Strong Women, Strong Girls

By Alex Loughran Lamothe, corps member serving on the Comcast NBCUniversal team

Samantha Johnson, ’13

Believing in the power of young people is a core value of City Year, and a foundation of all of our work in our schools with our students. However, City Year isn’t the only organization that values this belief. Another phenomenal Boston organization is Strong Women Strong Girls, which connects young female students in Boston Public Schools with college-aged women mentors.

City Year alumna Samantha Johnson, who served on the National Grid team at Blackstone Elementary School last year, interned with Strong Women, Strong Girls this past summer. She has a unique perspective on how this organization fulfills this core value, and kindly agreed to share her experiences and insights with us.

City Year Boston (CYB): Where are you originally from, and what brought you to City Year last year?

Samantha Johnson (SJ): I’m originally from the Bay Area in California, about 15 minutes north of San Francisco. But I went to school in southern California. From there, I actually found a [City Year] flyer in my English department, and I thought, “This is cool.” I read about it and looked up the website and everything, and the mission really spoke to me.

CYB: This past summer, you interned withStrong Women Strong Girls (SWSG). What is the mission of SWSG, and how does the organization operate?

SJ: I was their Communications and Social Media Intern. I was doing blogging for them and doing a lot of editing. [The mentors] would just email their stories straight to me. The women who work in the Boston office are amazing.

It was a really hard time for me because I was transitioning out of City Year. Especially detaching from my kids—that was probably the worst part. But going straight into Strong Women Strong Girls made me feel like I was in such a supportive environment.

The organization does an after school program in Boston Public Schools. College girls mentor and teach [girls in the schools] all sorts of things. It’s a lot of social-emotional and academic learning, and it’s really empowering for young girls.

CYB: What are the afterschool programs like?

SJ:  It’s kind of like [City Year’s] Starfish afterschool [program] for elementary students. They have snack, and they do homework for a little bit. Then they have a lesson of the day, when they’ll teach them about a certain strong woman and have activities that go along with what that woman was about. They try to do field trips throughout the year, too. It’s a lot of different activities, hands-on, keeping them active and learning about different women in history.

In my opinion, I think that a lot of history is male-focused. The awesome thing about Strong Women Strong Girls is that [the students] learn about so many other strong women that it could help balance out history.

CYB: How did you embody “belief in the power of young people” while at SWSG?

SJ: I helped all the college girls with edits and their stories, and I was constantly helping mentor their ideas and guide them through the blogging process, and at the same time empower them as writers.

CYB: How do you continue to embody this value in your life today?

SJ: I actually keep this in mind a lot when I talk to my little siblings. They’re at stages in their lives where they are making mistakes, because they’re teenagers. When they come to me for advice, I try to keep in mind the way I talk to them so I’m not being “the mean older sister” anymore–so that I’m actually being constructive and helpful.

This value totally changed how my mind works, and about how important it is to talk to kids. It’s always important to treat them with respect, because they are going to grow up to be adults who will interact with future kids.

***

Through the common work of Strong Women Strong Girls and City Year, we can continue to believe together in the power of young people, and in the importance of building a mutual cycle of empowerment between mentors and this new generation. Together, we can change the world—one life at a time.

Do you believe in the power of young people? If so, tell us how you empower young leaders in the comments below.

Our alumni are doing amazing things in the world. Click here to read more of their stories!

About the author:
Alex Loughran Lamothe is a 2013-2014 corps member serving on the Comcast NBCUniversal team at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester.

Our Favorite Dr. King Quotes

By Laura Stapler

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 20,  corps members serving at John F. Kennedy Elementary School posed for pictures with their favorite Dr. King quotes. Corps members were encouraged to choose quotes that resonated with them personally.The results were inspirational.

mlk quote_darkness cannot drive out darknessWEB

mlk quote_do what's rightWEB mlk quote_ignorance is dangerousWEB mlk quote_measure of manWEB
mlk quote_soul forceWEB
For ideas on classroom and enrichment MLK Day activities to do with your student click here. To find books about this great leader, click here.

What is your favorite quote from Dr. King? Comment below and tell us!

Celebrating the Spirit of Generosity

By Kaitlin Colleary, Individual Giving Manager

In School Service - Cy Orlando

Photo by Elliot Haney | 2013

The holiday season is a constant reminder of how truly generous our community can be. We see this generosity on the streets of Boston: volunteers collecting spare change for struggling families or gathering canned goods for local food pantries. We also witness compassion and kindness every day in our schools: a student holding the door open for a peer, or a sharing her favorite snack with a friend at lunchtime. This year, I want to give our community and the students of Boston a present that truly matters.

What’s one of the greatest gifts you could give a child?

A corps member who cares for and supports them in five unique ways.

1)   Students in schools with corps members have access to a mentor every day. As near peer role-models, corps members have the ability to connect with a wide range of students and inspire them to believe in themselves.

2)   Students receive attendance monitoring and positive behavior encouragement. Corps members lead energetic morning greetings, make calls home if students are absent, and share success stories with parents. Last year, at the Mattahunt Elementary School, 75 percent of students who received ongoing support from a City Year Boston corps member improved their attendance rate by an average of 5.1 percent. This resulted in 55 hours (or 9 days) of additional learning time per student.

3)   Corps members collaborate with teachers to provide instrumental support in the classroom. They engage in a unique partnership with educators to tackle behavioral challenges and provide small group tutoring in English and math.

4)   City Year provides extended day learning programs. Studies show that students are more likely to be involved in dangerous activities after regular school hours. Corps members organize programs to provide a safe and structured alternative after-school space.

5)   Corps members make learning fun and are committed to each child’s individual success. They are trained and equipped with engaging strategies to meet every student’s learning needs and continue to surprise us with their creative mentoring and tutoring ideas throughout the year.

I hope you will follow the links above to read inspiring stories of our corps members, the children they believe in, the strength and diversity of their teams, and the invaluable service they provide to the students of Boston. Your gift to City Year will ensure our corps members can continue to support their students and Boston school communities.

Please consider supporting this crucial work with an investment in City Year Boston this holiday season. To donate securely online or learn about other ways to support City Year, visit our website.

What Are You Thankful For?

By Rebecca Leclerc

Photo by Golshan Jalali

Photo by Golshan Jalali

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I was curious to find out what the City Year Boston community is thankful for. I asked students, corps members, school faculty and school partners what they are grateful for and these are some of the answers I received:

“I’m thankful for being alive and all the things I have, even if they’re not always the things I want.”
-5th grade student at the Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for all the things our school has, like snack and going outside, because not all schools have them.”
-3rd grade student at the Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for my team for becoming my family when I’m so far away from my own.”
-Ashby Gaines, corps member serving on the Wellington Management team at Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for my life and all the things my mom and dad have done for me.”
-5th grade student at the Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for all the positive energy in my life.”
-Playworks Coach, Coach TK

“I’m thankful for a great start to this year of service and for being able to participate in my fourth year of service.”
-Abe Fox, Program Manager for the Wellington Management team at Trotter Elementary School School.

“I’m thankful for each new day and all the new opportunities offered to me every day.”
-Krystal Figueroa, corps member serving on the Wellington Management team at Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for my family and being able to go to school.”
-6th grade student at Dearborn School

“I’m thankful for my family for always giving me the opportunities to pursue my dreams and goals. I’m thankful for my students, because I am learning so much from them everyday. And lastly, I’m thankful for my City Year team, friends and boyfriend for supporting me everyday.”
-Kim Schneider, corps member serving on the PTC team at Dearborn School

“I’m thankful for Thanksgiving day and the beautiful and delicious abundance of vegetables and grains I can prepare for my family and friends.”
-Ms. Cante, Teacher at Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for being able to play football.”
-5th grade student at Trotter Elementary School

“I’m thankful for coming to City Year and entering a warm and open group of people who share a common goal and look out for one another.”
-Phylicia Bischof, corps members serving on the Bank of America team at Young Achievers Science and Math Pilot K-8 School

“I’m thankful for my fellow 5th grade corps member and the support she offers me in our afterschool program. I’m thankful we balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”
-Emily Zinger, corps member serving on the Wellington Management team at Trotter Elementary School

About the author:
Rebecca Leclerc is a 2013-2014 corps member serving on the Wellington Management team at Trotter Elementary School.

It Takes a Village

By Gino Zavala

Irving_webOpen House—an event that brings teachers, parents, and corps members closer together. Eager to assist, I told all my partner teachers that I wanted to stay for the Irving Middle School open house and offered to help any way that I could. Teachers were excited about the event, but at the same time they were nervous because the turnout for last year’s open house was lower than they’d hoped. One teacher told me he only met four parents last year. I replied, “I have a different feeling about this year.”

Preparing for open house was exciting for me. When our principal, Mr. Unobskey, asked our team if any of us spoke other languages and would be willing to assist teachers and staff, I saw on opportunity to be a big help. I informed him I speak Spanish fluently. He asked me to stay in the front of the school and usher parents to classrooms and translate for teachers and parents as needed.

Open house began at 5:30 p.m. I was looking forward to meeting my students’ parents. Parent began arriving and I welcomed them all warmly. After a little while, one lady approached me and asked me, in Spanish, where she should go. I asked her for the name of the student whom she came to support and it turns out that it was Sara*, one of the students in my homeroom. I showed her where all of Sara’s classes were and asked if she wanted me to stay to help translate; she agreed. As we went to each classroom, we got to know each other more. She told me a lot of information about Sara: hobbies, favorite food, and what Sara liked to do at home.  I was really happy to learn more about my student.

While I was having this conversation with Sara’s mom, I looked around me and the hallways were packed with parents. It was really good seeing so many families taking advantage of this open house opportunity. I’m happy to report that I met five of my student’s parents. While I wasn’t able to talk at length with them as I did Sara’s mother, I did get a chance to introduce myself and let them know I enjoyed working with their students.

As open house was ending, Sara’s mom thanked me and gave me a hug. She told me to look after her daughter, and I told her not to worry. She gave me her blessing. That moment was special to me because I’ve created a relationship with one of my student’s parents. It also showed me how invested parents are in there child but it gave me more motivation for the year.

About the author:
Gino Zavala is a 2013-2014 corps member serving on the Deloitte team at Irving Middle School in Roslindale. 

Impact on the Dorchester Community

By Stephanie Gomez

HPHC_Sept13Last month Harvard Pilgrim Health Care (HPHC) volunteers, Celtics employees, the Holland Elementary School and Harbor Middle School communities came together for a service day. As the team sponsors for the City Year team serving at Holland, HPHC was extremely thrilled to partake in such a meaningful and transformational project.  From mural painting and picnic table building, to cleaning and planting at the Geneva Cliffs Urban Wild, volunteers strengthened the ideals and aspirations of the Dorchester community.

The Holland Elementary School strives for excellence and does so by instilling the concept of R.I.S.E. to all of their students. This acronym stands for Respect, Ideal Choices, Safe Behavior, and Effort. The Foundation To Be named Later Boston Civic Engagement team wanted to capture the essence of this concept by allowing volunteers to bring it to life during the event. Therefore, murals were designed to cater to the school’s R.I.S.E., while incorporating the school mascot, a dragon. Students see these murals on a daily basis as they arrive to school, play outside during recess, and leave school to go home.

Volunteers were also stationed at the Geneva Cliffs Urban Wild Park, located a block away from the Holland Elementary School. Joined by Paul Sutton, the Program Manager for Urban Wilds Initiative Boston Parks and Recreation, volunteers cleaned up the surrounding area, added more than 30 kinds of plants, from Agastache Blue and Amsonia WFF to Digitalis Purpurea and Echinacia, disposed of weeds and cleared pathways to make more feasible for locals to walk through. All of this work aided in the preparation for the annual Halloween festivities that take place in October.

In addition to projects at the Holland and Geneva Cliffs Urban Wild, the Summit Partners team serving at the Harbor Middle School facilitated projects around organizing the school library, painting panel murals, and creating a bulletin board. These projects aim to set a positive environment for the start of the school year, motivating students to feel supported in their academics. The HPHC and Celtics service event was an overwhelming success! By the end of the day five panel murals were painted, the bulletin board displayed school values and culture, and the library was organized alphabetically with lettered signs to facilitate searches.

With over 100 volunteers, two picnic tables were built and seven outdoor murals were painted at the Holland. The Dorchester community now proudly displays ideals in and around the local schools and parks!

About the author:
Stephanie Gomez is a 2013-2014 senior corps member serving on the Foundation To Be Named Later Boston Civic Engagement Team.

Friday Five: Boston Transportation

By Adrian Pio

Whether you’re a lifelong resident, new to the region, or just here on a visit, these services are indispensable to getting from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss and damage to your wallet.  You may use them daily or only occasionally, but the multifarious methods mean that there is mode for every task.

Without further ado, here are five of my favorite ways to get around Boston:

ZipCar
With limited city parking, and the expense of car insurance, sometimes it’s just not feasible to own your own set of wheels. Luckily, ZipCar is there to help. ZipCar is a membership service that allows you to rent a car for brief time intervals.

With more than 50 ZipCar locations within the greater Boston area, 30 car models to choose from, and hundreds of cars available in the area, there is always a vehicle on hand. While the price per hour depends on the size of the vehicle, the fees include insurance and the first 180 miles worth of gasoline.

Comparatively, ZipCar is the most expensive option on this list, but If you want to snag groceries, take a day trip outside the city, or move to a new apartments ZipCar has you covered—ZipCar is for you. Just be cautious of high-traffic hours that might impact the amount of time you need to rent the car for.

Subway
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway system, which we lovingly call as the T, services more than 600,000 individuals daily and comprises more than 50% of the public transportation provided by the MBTA.  It operates on a spoke-hub distribution paradigm, which makes getting to and from downtown a cinch from any location.  The T operates from 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. the following evening, from Somerville to Braintree, from the Waterfront to Newton.  Trains arrive, on average, every 10 minutes, ensuring a short wait time and easy transfers.

The MBTA recently developed a smartphone application to keep riders up to date on the T schedule.  With the OpenMBTA app, riders are provided with T-alerts, scheduled riding times, and station maps.  Furthermore the MBTA’s See Something, Say Something protocol (and available app) and numerous security personnel make the T one of the safest ways to travel in Boston.

Bus
The bus has the advantage of territory.  There are currently 183 bus routes in the city, providing an unparalleled network of public transport.

Furthermore, bus routes extend outside the geographical reach of the T, enabling passengers to travel farther away from the city center.  Consumers paying by CharlieCard receive a free transfer onto a local MBTA bus service when changing from the T. Those passengers with the OpenMBTA application will also have access to up-to-the-minute scheduling information for all their bus routes.

Hubway
Bicycling is becoming an increasingly popular, and often can be the quickest, way to travel in the modern city.  With more than 100 stations and 1,000 bicycles, the Hubway bicycle service sees more than 50,000 riders a month across Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, and Somerville.

For dedicated users, consider an annual membership. For those who need a bike for sporadic use, one-day passes are available.  Additionally low-income Boston residents are eligible for a year-long membership for the subsidized price of $5.  Yes, $5 (and it comes with a helmet!).

Membership costs cover the first 30 minutes of travel; time after incurs an additional charge. Spotcycle will help smartphone users keep track of where to find and where to return their borrowed bikes.

Don’t forget your feet!
There’s no better way to explore a city than on your own two feet.  Whether it be discovering a beautiful building, a hidden restaurant, or a killer window sale, there is simply no freer way to travel than on foot.  There’s no looking for parking spots, bus stops, T stations, or bike returns.

As one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston has plenty of neat and funky (and often historic) things to run into over the course of an afternoon stroll.  Or if you want a little more structure to your journey, take a walk along the Charles River, eat Italian in the North End, or finally get around to seeing what the Freedom Trail is all about.

Walking may not be the fastest way from point A to point B, but it’s usually the most rewarding.  And, if you still need convincing, just remind yourself that it’s free!

Questions, suggestions, additional methods?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

About the author:
Adrian Pio was a 2012-2013 corps member serving on the MFS Investment Management team at the Dever-McCormack Lower School in Dorchester.

The Tobin, City Year and Playworks: A Close Collaboration

By Kathryn McCarthy

recessCity Year Boston has served in the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury for more than ten years. But we’re not the only organization supporting these students and this community. In more recent years, the Tobin School has developed a partnership with Playworks, a nonprofit organization that is focused on making recess a structured and beneficial time for students.

Playworks was established in 1996, but it has expanded tremendously across the nation within the past several years. The coaches at Playworks bring light to the value that play has in promoting students’ social, emotional, and physical development. It provides services in five essential areas: recess, leadership development, class game time, developmental sports leagues, and out-of-school time programs. The overarching goal is to offer students with a safe environment to develop new skills, learn and practice fair play and use positive conflict resolution.

Coach Dana Harris, the Playworks coach at the Tobin, does an incredible job. His energy and positivist are truly infectious and he has truly touched the entire school community. The students admire him for his balanced, genuine, dependable, caring, and comical nature. Every day, Kindergartners through fifth-grades have the opportunity to meet with him for structured recess. The recess is comprised of them circulating between selections of games that his junior coaches run under his supervision. A unique aspect of the program is the junior coach role because it enables students to learn new skills and teach their classmates.

Coach Dana’s role within the Tobin community transcends far beyond his structured recess time in that he also leads biweekly class game times and a daily afterschool program. Coach Dana has been a true force at the Tobin School this year and has also developed a great relationship with our City Year team. His work with our students outside of classroom helps keep them focused and ready to learn in the classroom. Together we work toward the collectively goal of fostering a safe and nurturing learning environment for the students of Boston. The Tobin K-8 School, City Year and Playworks have formed a united front to help inspire the students to become lifelong learners.

About the author:
Kathryn McCarthy was a 2012-2013 corps member serving on the State Street team at the Maurice J. Tobin K-8 School in Roxbury.