Five-Point Programmatic Thrust:
Health, Education, Employment, Recreation plus the Arts and Humanities
In 1972, the Continental Societies, Incorporated initiated its national program "Operation Awareness: Health, Education, Employment and Recreation.” Each component of the programmatic thrust was chosen because of its significance in the lives of all children. Continental members believed that it was essential to provide activities and projects in these areas to enhance the lives of children and youth with special needs. In 1977, a fifth component, Arts and Humanities, was added. These five areas provide the structure for Continental service to children. Children served range in age from babies to college students.
The Health Component addresses total health and fitness. Continental programs include health fairs, medical screenings, lifestyle workshops, fitness and nutrition awareness sessions, drug abuse prevention, walk-a-thons, diabetes awareness and prevention training to name a few. The Continentals’ signature health program, Bright Smiles, Bright Futures, is provided by the Continentals’ corporate partner, Colgate-Palmolive. Beginning in 2008, the Colgate-Palmolive Company entered a formal agreement with the organization and provides dental screenings through its Bright Smiles, Bright Futures program. With Continental support, Colgate-Palmolive celebrated serving more that ten million children in 2010
Education Component activities are designed to assist children improve their academic performance and enhance their enjoyment of learning. A sample of educational programs are tutoring, scholarship awards, cultural awareness training, mentoring, reading support programs, puppet shows, donations of books and educational supplies, etiquette and leadership academies, and school partnerships. Special programs are developed to provide exposure to college campuses to encourage students to continue their education beyond high school. Each year, chapters award multiple scholarships to local students. Scholarship awards are also given at the Regional and National levels.
The Employment Component focuses on career awareness and career development support. Students receive a range of service programs in the employment areas based on their age. These projects may focus on employability training with skills development, career fairs, internships, summer employment placement and support, and job placement.
In the Recreation Component, services focus on healthy, safe, and active leisure-time activities. Programs, projects and activities include walk-a-thons, skating, bowling, spectator sports, as well as individual and team sports. Students are encouraged and supported in becoming active sports competitors while developing their talents and skills. Many of the chapters include Special Olympics’ activities to include enjoyable events for children who are differently-able.
The Arts and Humanities Component provides students with wholesome recreational and educational entertainment. Activities in this area include theater outings to plays, musicals, and other performances. Students also enjoy workshop training sessions inviting interest and talent development. Sessions offered include vocal instruction, instruction on various musical instruments and electronic equipment, piano lessons, dance, drama, public speaking, and other activities. Many chapters conclude their arts and humanities activities with formal pageants presenting Miss Continental and Mr. Continental.
Each year all chapters survey and investigate needs of children in their area. Chapter members act on their findings of children’s identified needs and challenges by designing and implementing quality service programs, projects and activities. Continental chapters serve more than a quarter million children annually.