First Night and South High launch year two of Worcester on the Move

Contact: Howard McGinn, Executive Director (508) 799-4909 or (508) 944-9474


Nonprofit partnership promotes healthy living and brings new experiences to at-risk youth

WORCESTER, MA (March 26, 2015) – Next month, First Night Worcester and South High Community School will launch year two of Worcester on the Move, a healthy living and leadership initiative targeted to at-risk children in the Worcester Public Schools. According to the MA Department of Elementary & Secondary Education, 64% of Worcester students are from a minority background, 73% are classified as low-income and 44% have a first language that is not English. This year, Worcester on the Move will teach children to appreciate the benefit of healthy physical activity while encouraging a meaningful appreciation of the natural world, a perspective that often escapes urban and at-risk youth. Year two curriculum will continue to focus on developing leadership skills and will also introduce a new art module that will closely align with First Night’s mission to bring the arts to the community.

“Last year’s program was a tremendous success,” said Howard McGinn, executive director of First Night Worcester. “More than 150 students participated, including volunteers from South High’s JROTC program, students from Columbus Park Elementary School, the South High baseball team – we even got an endorsement from the Worcester Bravehearts baseball club which provided a free baseball clinic and game tickets for the kids. We’re excited to dive into a brand-new round of activities, including a new partnership with the South High chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club”.

This year’s activities will be broken up into four “phases” that are set to run from April to December, 2015.

Phase 1: Outdoor adventures (April & May)

  1. “South goes North: Camping at Mt. Cardigan” (April). The South High chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) will travel to Mount Cardigan in Orange, New Hampshire for a two-day excursion. Student participants will take the lead in organizing all details of the outing, from packing to meal planning, and will hike at least 10 miles, learning how to protect and appreciate the world around them and the benefits of a healthy outdoor lifestyle. Throughout the weekend, students will participate in activities that promote self-confidence, leadership skills and teamwork.
  1. Great New England Air Show (May). First Night is pleased to welcome back the JROTC community for year two of Worcester on the Move. The South High JROTC has been invited to attend the largest air show in New England at the Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, MA. Students will provide community service in the form of military details revolving around crowd control and coordination, practicing their leadership skills as they go. After completing daily details, students will be able to enjoy every aspect of the air show. In the evening they will gather as a group to prepare meals and discuss their adventure.

“Though very different in scope, both trips will provide South High students with the ability to experience life in ways that they have only imagined,” said Maureen Binienda, principal of South High. “They will learn to appreciate the benefits of living a healthy lifestyle that incorporates a range of outdoor activities. Through these experiences, students will gain confidence to build upon skills they develop as they also encourage others to participate in future adventures”.

Phase 2: Art Module (June)

In keeping with First Night’s mission to cultivate an enjoyment of the arts within the community, phase 2 adds an arts component to Worcester on the Move. Students will document their experiences in a photo diary and write an essay about what they learned. The goal of this phase is for students to create an original photographic artwork that captures their feelings about their Worcester on the Move experiences. Entries will be submitted for a chance to be displayed in a special exhibit in the Worcester Windows community gallery art program, target date June 2015.

Phase 3: Mentoring Program (Fall 2015)

To further develop their leadership skills, YOP student participants will act as mentors to 60 students at South High’s on-site preschool. The high school leaders will develop a series of outdoor activities (nature hikes, outdoor games, picnics, etc.) based around what they learned during their camping excursion to teach the younger children about the benefits of healthy activity and to foster an appreciation of the natural world. High school leaders will earn community service hours for their efforts.

Phase 4: New Year’s Eve

The YOP experience will culminate in a presentation to be held during First Night Worcester ’16. Activities will include a display of student’s photographic artwork, demonstrations in the use of camping gear, and discussing with others what they learned from this adventure.

About First Night Worcester

Founded in 1981, First Night Worcester is a private, not-for-profit 501(c) (3) organization dedicated to providing access to the arts. Best known for its New Year’s Eve arts festival, the non-profit work of First Night Worcester continues throughout the year with educational programs and community outreach initiatives. Taken together, the programs of First Night Worcester create a true spirit of community by providing shared cultural experiences, accessible and affordable to all. For more information, please contact Howard McGinn, executive director at (508) 799-4909 or


March 26th 2015 by FNW
Categories: News |