YMCA continues its afterschool programs at county elementaries

Wesley LeBlanc
Posted 8/14/19

CLAY COUNTY – Working parents unable to pick their child up after school can enroll them in the YMCA’s afterschool program.

According to the national nonprofit Afterschool Alliance one in five …

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YMCA continues its afterschool programs at county elementaries

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Working parents unable to pick their child up after school can enroll them in the YMCA’s afterschool program.

According to the national nonprofit Afterschool Alliance one in five children don’t have afterschool care. The First Coast YMCA said the statistic certainly applies to Clay County.

YMCA has helped for 25 years by offering parents an option to keep their child supervised at school after classes, while continuing the learning experience.

“It’s the perfect opportunity for working families or single parent families who can’t pick up their child right when school ends and it’s a great way to enhance a kid’s education with additional social and skill-based elements,” Afterschool Experience Executive Chuck Steinfurth said.

There are 28 elementary schools in Clay County that offer the YMCA’s before-and-after school program, and more than 1,700 children were enrolled last year. Steinfurth expects even more this school year. Each of those students will experience a variety of structured afterschool activities.

For example, a student might take part in a STEM activity and may start a literacy project a day later.

“We want to make sure that first and foremost, we have a safe space for children,” Steinfurth said. We do like to conveniently locate it at schools because when school ends, the kid can just come to the cafeteria to begin the programming for that day. Because we try to make our program an extension of the school day, we offer the children help with their homework as well as the opportunity to partake in STEM, literacy, arts and humanities, character and leadership and wellness activities.

“Our goal is to give kids the chance to learn, grow and thrive in this program and we feel that we can do a good job on that by providing this opportunity.”

Argyle Elementary Principal Angela Ward has helped facilitate this partnership between her school and the YMCA for the past three years, and she said it’s been a highlight for the community.

“For my school, Argyle Elementary, we’re the only Clay County building in the area,” Ward said. “We’re a walking school district so we’re really a hub for kids to get the assistance they need.”

The YMCA constantly checks the lessons plans with AES teachers. That allows the YMCA how students are benefiting from the program.

Steinfurth said the afterschool program helps students improve their test scores and it increases attendance since many look forward to the after-school program.

The reason YMCA extends its supervision to educational work is because it doesn’t want to be a babysitting club, according to Steinfurth.

While some activities happen in the cafeteria, many of the activities, like beautification projects and science experiments, are outside.

The morning and afternoon program is around $300 per month and can be paid in weekly increments. Steinfurth said the YMCA offers scholarships and financial assistance for those in need.

The daily program starts after the final school bell and goes until at least 6 p.m.

“Our program works well because we communicate with each other,” Ward said. “They really support our students beyond probably what they’re required to do and it really shows.”

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