During our time in Allendale, my wife and I saw the value of after school programs for children and teenagers. Besides giving children an opportunity to get help with school work, they need a place hang out with friends and positive role models. (I saw this early on when we asked some students why they wanted to be in the new after school program.)
When we moved to Greenville this summer, we wondered if an after school program would be needed in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood (the community where we are focusing on for now). And after talking with school and community leaders, as well as local parents, we were sure that this was a need.
But this is not a novel idea, of course, whether in Greenville or in our neighborhood. A couple of years ago, a young man who came through the Mill Village Farms program as a teenager, had the desire to start an after school program. But at 19 years of age, Morrell Stokes didn’t feel like he could do this himself.
God (and a mutual friend) brought Morrell and I together, combining his passion for the community, and our experience with after school programs. We are excited to be working together to launch Clubhouse Kids After School on Monday January 26, meeting at Long Branch Baptist Church (Morrell’s church, and a partner of Grace Church and Mill Community Ministries).
“We’re So Proud of You!”
Morrell grew up in the Sullivan Neighborhood. He attended Augusta Circle Elementary School, where I’ve been hanging out a lot (and primarily where I’m recruiting mentors for).
Last month, Morrell and I had lunch at this school. Teachers and administrators beamed when they saw him, and more than one exclaimed, “We’re so proud of you!” He also saw a few children that he knows from the neighborhood. They were surprised and glad to see him and talk to him.
And since the staff had just that week handed out the flyers for the after school program, children and adults alike were excited to ask us about it. Yes, the school cafeteria was filled with energy that day, and we are hopeful that energy continues as we begin to sign up children.
Why an After School in the Sullivan Neighborhood
At Elevate Youth, we know that kids need 2 things:
(Of course, adults need the same, but we’re focusing on children and youth!)
At Clubhouse Kids, we will provide both of these things, and fun games, snacks, educational assistance, and more!
Of course, lots of after school programs provide the same, and that’s great! We are not looking to replace or compete with the plethora of good programs in Greenville.
But if there are so many other after school programs in Greenville, why don’t we support them? And if distance is the issue (as it often is in under-resourced communities), then why don’t we just work to provide transportation to one of the other programs?
We want to launch an after school program in the Greater Sullivan Neighborhood because we see the value and power in the community’s ownership over the program. We want the children, parents, and other community members to feel like this program is their own.
Because it is.
Why We Need You
Even though we want this program to belong to the local community, we would love your support and partnership. To elaborate on what I already wrote, you can partner with us in three ways:
- Financial donations, to support the staff and to provide materials
- Providing snacks (for ~15 children) once per month
- Volunteering (Monday or Thursday afternoons), 2-4 hours per month
Any of these can be done as individuals, families, or small groups.
The Power of After School Programs
Caring relationships. Improving social skills. Homework assistance. All founded on Biblical truths.
We believe these aspects make up a successful after school program. But don’t take my word for it. Here is a small sample of experts who agree that quality after school programs can have a significant impact in a child’s life:
Heching Report: “Children derive benefits from afterschool activities, over and above the experience that they have with their family, and the experiences that they have at school. Low-income children, in general, have less access to activities.”
US News: “After-school programs can be a successful dropout prevention tool because they address three key indicators of students leaving school – attendance, behavior and course completion.”
Buffalo News: “Many educators and experts say after-school programs are essential to improving performance in high-needs districts. . . . When you extend the school day, that extends into the community.”
Science Daily: “Children in afterschool programs who have a sense of connectedness with their peers are less likely to report emotional problems.”
Will you be a part of Clubhouse Kids After School Program? Comment below, or contact us to let us know.
I’m trying something new . . .
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- They “WHY” Behind Elevate Youth
- Mill Community Ministries: Your FAQs and SAQs and More Questions and Answers
- After After School (Mission: Allendale)