Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island serves a population in south Brooklyn consisting of immigrants from the former Soviet Union and second-generation immigrants. Children of Russian backgrounds encounter a difficult acculturation process that often leaves them with an us vs. them mentality, impeding their integration into American society and preventing their achievement of social stability and financial independence. The low-income student population of Brighton Beach and Starrett City face disadvantaged circumstances that significantly complicate their chances for attaining personal, academic, and career success. Parents long working hours create latch-key children who are forced to tackle homework assignments and social activities without adult support. The childrens quest for support often leads to deviant peer bonding, causing uncooperative behavior, rebelliousness, and opposition to authority figures. Studies indicate that youngsters are most likely to first experiment with tobacco, alcohol, narcotics and promiscuous behavior during unsupervised after-school hours. The negative behaviors further hinder social and academic development.
The Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island (JCCGCI), in partnership with Beer Hagolah Institutes (BHI), has developed the Champion Advantage After-School Program which services 180 adolescents, between the ages of 13 - 18. Socially and/or emotionally disturbed children, physically challenged, and those with learning disabilities are welcomed. The program, held at BHIs modern, well equipped facility in Starrett City, provides a safe place for youth to spend their after-school hours in a constructive setting, with adult supervision, and academically enriching and entertaining recreational activities.
The program utilizes a strength-based approach to provide enriching educational activities, homework assistance, tutoring, and technological skills training. Educational and recreational activities and personal development workshops enhance personal skills such as decision-making and problem-solving. The program additionally fosters personal qualities such as responsibility, self-esteem, team-working, self-management and artistic expression. Mentoring relationships with staff and multi-cultural activities encourage positive social interaction and mutual respect.
Community service projects include inter-generational programming and other activities to benefit community residents. Conflict resolution courses emphasize all areas to help youngsters learn methods of diffusing tension, managing anger, and resolving conflict. Program activities include: homework help and tutoring, pre-vocational training, sports activities, outdoor play, science workshop, arts and crafts, computers, cartooning, music, drama, magic, writing, food preparation, music, library, peer counseling, Humor & Laughter workshops, field trips and community service.
Operated by the Jewish Community Council of Greater Coney Island, the Champion Advantage After-School Program is funded by the New York State Department of Education and New York City Office of Children & Family Services.