Local Girls ‘Step’ Into Leadership Roles After School
The Vision Step Team after-school program at Sheridan Elementary almost never came to be. When only three girls signed up at the beginning of the year, Coach Chelsea McElory said some people urged her to try another school. “You really need about ten girls to make it run full throttle,” Chelsea explained, “but these girls really wanted to make it happen.”
Three fifth grade students, Iyona, Aniya, and Ava, took it on themselves to start recruiting more team members. “I asked my friends if they wanted to join,” said Iyona, “and they just started to come.” Soon, three girls turned into thirteen.
This group here at Sheridan is basically 100% student-led, and when they get speak out and call the steps and lead the routines, they are saying I am here, I’m a leader, and this is how I want to present myself to the world.
Coach Chelsea saw an opportunity to build on the leadership skills that were beginning to blossom in Iyona and her friends, “Iyona has been on my private team for 3 years. She’s never wanted to be upfront, never tried out for a leadership, but since we’ve been here at her school she’s shown a confidence and leadership I hadn’t seen from her before.”
At practices, Iyona is often up in front of the rest of the team calling the steps while Chelsea watches from the back. Iyona also recently took the lead when the team performed at the Junior Daffodil Festival and another showcase event, “I’m not that nervous about performing in front of a lot of people anymore. It’s really fun.”
Chelsea is glad to hear that Iyona and her teammates are having fun performing, but she’s even more excited about the leadership skills they are developing, “This group here at Sheridan is basically 100% student-led, and when they get to speak out and call the steps and lead the routines, they are saying I am here, I’m a leader, and this is how I want to present myself to the world. They are growing on the inside, and that’s what is most important to me.”
Vision Step is one of 24 organizations currently offering Expanded Learning Opportunities through the Tacoma Whole Child partnership. Students at 12 Elementary Schools in Tacoma now have access to Expanded Learning Opportunities like Vision Step through this community-wide effort to ensure every child is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged.
Greater Tacoma Community Foundation, Tacoma Public Schools, and numerous community partners are working together to expand this partnership by providing aligned, equitable, high quality social, emotional, and academic development opportunities to students in and out of school.
To learn more about increasing Expanded Learning Opportunities for Tacoma youth, contact GTCF for ways to support programming.