Moody Manor Kids Speak!
Monday, May 27, Toledo, OH – The children in the Woodberry Park Kids, Cartooning, and Chess program at the Mareda Center have been thinking of what they would do as Mayor of Toledo, and are planning to share it with the man currently holding that position. On June 3, from 4:00 – 6:00 pm, Mayor Mike Bell will visit students enrolled in Woodberry Park Kids, Cartooning, and Chess at the Inez Nash Park (206 E. Bancroft Street), just a few blocks from where the children usually meet. Through the Kids, Cartooning, and Chess program, 5th through 8th grade students from the Moody Manor apartment complex participate in weekly sessions where they are given the opportunity to develop in their strategic and creative thinking by playing chess, drawing cartoon strips, and art. Recently, they have been preparing comic art communicating their priorities if given the chance to be Mayor. Beyond the skills they learn, participants also enhance their ability to express creativity, learn proper social and sportsmanlike conduct, and spend time in a nurturing, safe, and caring environment.
Warren Woodberry and his wife, Yolanda, have been working in Jones Elementary School since February, teaching the students how to play chess, create cartoons, and improve their social behavior. They have experienced firsthand what many studies have shown: chess makes kids smarter. Chess has been proven to help students enhance their creativity, improve concentration, develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, boost memory retention, and enhance self-esteem. As artists, the Woodberryscoupled the benefits of chess with cartoon art and participants in the program move between the two activities each session, both of which contribute to increased academic and creative performance.
Recently, Mayor Mike Bell has expressed concern over the availability of safe, engaging, educational programming for students in the Moody Manor complex. Moody Manor management has echoed that concern. The Woodberrys responded by bringing the program that was successful at Frederick Douglass Community Center and Jones Elementary School to the Mareda Center building located across from the Moody Manor apartments. The program works very closely with the 10 to 12 students that have attended in the past two months since opening its doors.
In order to improve and expand this endeavor, however, the Woodberrys have engaged members of Future of Toledo, a working group dedicated to transforming the city and region. Future of Toledo (FoT) is a growing group of over 1,000 “can do” people connecting government and community leaders with citizens to identify and respond to short-term and long-term needs of the area. The goal of FoT is to foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders in order to advance innovation that leads to action. Their work with Woodberry Park Kids, Cartooning, and Chess allows the FoT to have immediate impact in an area in desperate need of positive programming and opportunities for children.
Woodberry also is working with the Afterschool Alliance of Northwest Ohio and Partners in Education to ensure Kids, Cartooning, and Chess has a solid foundation on which to expand to more schools and communities throughout the city. The Afterschool Alliance of Northwest Ohio will be assisting the Woodberrys in identifying the core components of the program, appropriate staffing models, necessary competencies and training of staff, and quality assurance processes. This work directly aligns with the group’s mission to enhance quality and increase professional development opportunities for afterschool and summer programs throughout northwest Ohio. The hope is that, with a more formal structure as its base, Woodberry Park Kids, Cartooning, and Chess will benefit a higher percentage of students in Toledo and its surrounding area.
The children at the Mareda Center look forward to sharing their plans with Mayor Mike Bell on June 3. Warren and Yolanda Woodberry could not be prouder of the progress made in bringing out the creativity in the children at Moody Manor and hopes that within a few years, thousands of students across the Toledo area will be prepared to show improved progress in school, both in conduct and academics. The Woodberrys want every student to know with certainty that they are empowered to plan a hopeful future.
Warren and Yolanda Woodberry believe that every child has the right to be loved, cherished, supported, and treated with respect and dignity. Kids need to be nurtured emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. Programs that fulfill these needs by creating a safe environment with caring adults and quality programming need support! The collaboration between Woodberry Park Kids, Cartooning, and Chess, the Afterschool Alliance of Northwest Ohio, and the Future of Toledo is a first step of many needed.