Active Kids is a program designed to get elementary-age kids moving. Once a month, a volunteer comes to the library to teach the kids different ways of getting active through activites such as yoga, karate and softball.
My goal for this program is to have a way children can learn about physical activities they might be interested in for free. In our town, there are no options to take a single gymnastics class without paying for an entire semester, and volleyball isn't offered until high school. Through this program, children can sample a variety of activities without making a commitment.
I start planning each program about six weeks ahead. For each program, a volunteer instructor must be arranged. Other than that, the library doesn't do much but provide space and monitor the program. We do not require advance registration.
I market this program through Facebook and a calendar of events that the library publishes monthly. We've found that our primary Facebook engagement is with women ages 25 to 45, and in our area, most of those women are mothers.
I also tell the volunteers that they are welcome to use the marketing materials I've created on their own Facebook pages and websites, which gains more traction for each event.
This program costs no money. I ask the volunteer instructors to bring any supplies they need. We don't even need to buy bottled water; we have a drinking fountain near our programming room, so children use it if they get thirsty during the exercise.
Depending on the activity, we'll have the program indoors or outdoors and just ensure that the space is clear. For an indoor event like yoga, all chairs and tables are removed from the area.
We did run into a mishap when the local community college's volleyball team led a program. We held the program outdoors, of course, but we were too close to the library building/parking lot and windows and cars were hit with volleyballs (although thankfully, none were damaged). Since then, we've moved farther from the building and parking lot.
The program continues to be very successful for us and is one of our best-attended elementary programs. Parents say that they appreciate the ability to try out activities, like karate, without paying for it. After the program, some of the children check out books on the activity we've done.
Through this program, our library has established new partnerships with multiple businesses, the YMCA and the athletics department of our community college. We've kept track of feedback from parents and children and watched attendance statistics, and both are positive.
Before decided to implement this program, ensure that you have enough ideas for community partnerships and different types of activities, especially activities that can be done indoors.
About This Library
Twin Falls Public Library serves the residents of the town of Twin Falls, Idaho. We are a community of nearly 50,000 residents with a large migrant worker population and a refugee program. Our library isn't close to any of the town's public schools, so getting students to programs is a challenge.