Sunday, January 29, 2012

Catholic After-School Programs

I am so excited to share information about some solid, Catholic programs for youth!  

Let's quickly get the bad news out of the way.  Not all after-school programs are created equal.  I would take that a step further and say that not all after-school programs have business taking place in our Catholic schools and parishes.  

Unfortunately, after reading about the Girl Scouts of America and their connection with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), I'd put the Girl Scouts in the category of not belonging in the Catholic school setting.  To find out why, read about the organization's ties to Planned Parenthood and WAGGGS here, here, here, and here.  Be sure to read the "Happy, Healthy, Hot" sexual education flier distributed by WAGGGS.   

Instead of dwelling on all of that, let's talk about two great programs geared for Catholic youth!

I hope you will prayerfully consider bringing these two programs to your parish:
  1. Little Flowers Girls' Club
  2. Blue Knights Club for Boys
Here's a little history on the publishing company that started the Little Flowers Girls' Club and the Blue Knights Club for Boys:
In home-schooling, mom - Joan Stromberg - found an abundance of Christian material to integrate into unit studies, yet a notable lack of Catholic material. Using her degree in journalism and history, she decided to bring Mother Cabrini to life in a way that would appeal to children ages 7-12 while teaching them solid American History at the same time. The Glory of America series was then born, through which the values, traditions, and heritage of our Catholic American past can be passed on to our children.

Since then the company continued to grow in its service of the Faith by publishing the club guides and material for the Little Flowers Girls' Club and the Blue Knights Club for Boys, developed repsectively by Rachel Watkins and Major Dan McGuire. These two product lines are amazing tools for training our children in wholesome Catholic human formation and cultivating in them a life of virtues and authentic Catholic morals. 
AWESOME!  An authentically Catholic after-school program that any parish could adopt and be proud of!  
I'm obviously ecstatic about both the boys' and girls' clubs, but I'm especially encouraged to see a girls' club that celebrates femininity in a fun, age-appropriate after-school program.  

Here's a little on the Little Flowers Girls' Club:

Little Flowers Girls' Club® is a Catholic program for girls ages 5 and up based on learning Catholic virtues through the lives of Catholic saints, Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Developed by a Catholic mom of eleven, Rachel Watkins, and based on Fr. Lasance's Catholic Girls' Guide, the Club strives to bring the Catholic faith alive and inspire the girls to become authentic Catholic women.

Each club is run at the local level...there is no national organization, registration or database of groups. If you are looking for a group in your area, please contact your local Catholic parish or Catholic homeschooling support group. If you don't find one in your area, why not start one? It is easy and you can cater the program to fit your needs.

Nine virtues are included in each of three different wreaths or years of study. A fourth year, studying the gifts of the Spirit is also available. The format of the Clubs is flexible, with groups meeting monthly, bi-monthly or weekly. Badges for the virtues are earned by studying the saint associated with the virtue, memorizing relevant scripture verses and studying the Catechism. The program is flexible enough to use with a variety of age groups. Little Flowers Girls' Club® has also been successfully implemented in the family. Sashes, aprons, bandanas, t-shirts and other items are extras that add to the experience, but are not necessary to running a successful Club.

The Leader's Guide for each wreath offers suggestions for running meetings, planning crafts and activities, talks on virtues and other relevant information. The Member's Guide includes the activities, saints' biographies, pictures of the saints, and prayers for each girl. Each of the girls in the Club should purchase their own Member's Guide.
If that's not exciting enough for you, know that the program has the stamp of approval in Baltimore.  "The first two Wreaths of the Little Flowers Girls’ Club program have already received the Imprimatur from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The rest of the programs and years are now under review from that same archdiocese. The authors, all Catholic moms and dads, bow to the authority of the Magisterium in teaching faith and morals and try to live their lives accordingly."

How adorable are the sash and flower virtue badges for the girls?!

Photo from the Little Flowers Girls' Club site
Virtue patches
Check out the Blue Knights gear.  I don't know a little boy who wouldn't want to wear this sweet cape and armor!

Pictures from the Blue Knights Club for Boys site

Year 1 Patch set

Are you interested in bringing these programs to your parish?  The websites offer you all of the information you need to get a troop started.  

I'm learning all that I can so that I can be a troop leader for a Little Flowers Girls Club troop when Janie turns 5!  In the meantime, the website offers information for parents of boys and girls to promote "the growth of virtue in the lives of our children through the teaching of the Faith, authentic human formation, and the values of our history and Catholic heritage."  Love it!   

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