By Jean Bowick
Besides band rehearsals, try-outs, and team practices, many kids dread staying “after school.” When your beloved student is lagging behind (or acting up) in class, these words can often spell “trouble.”
But for kids at YMCA’s Afterschool Academy, “after school” means something else entirely, and it’s entirely awesome!
Every afternoon from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., YMCA of Greater Birmingham offers our youth a safe, structured, and super FUN environment to study and play hard after school. In addition to having daily help with homework, kids at the Y enjoy healthy meals and exercise while also developing new skills, creative interests, and lasting friendships.
Studies have shown that well-planned afterschool programs offer a wide variety of benefits, not only to the kids who participate, but to their whole families, and even their communities. According to Youth.gov, students enrolled in quality afterschool care activities earn higher grades, display better classroom behavior, and express broader vocational interests. They are also more likely to graduate and less likely to get involved in illegal drugs and other criminal behavior.
At YMCA’s Afterschool Academy, our innovative approach to afternoon child care is built on specific, age-appropriate, comprehensive core components: Academic Enrichment; College & Career Exploration; 21st Century Skills; Service Learning; Arts Education; Leadership Development; Health & Wellness; Global Learning; and Parent & Family Engagement. Our youth get to participate in a variety of unique and FUN programs that foster academic commitment (in pursuit of higher education); creative achievement in the arts; service to the community; leadership development; and healthy living.
Throughout the week, students in Afterschool Academy join in engaging, hands-on activities, including drama, painting, music, dance, and creative writing. And thanks to a new partnership with an urban, organic farm next door, kids at the Youth Center are even learning how to grow their own healthy fruits and vegetables.
Currently we have eight YMCA branches around Birmingham that host our amazing Afterschool Academy: Alabaster, Greystone, Hoover, Northeast, Pelham, Shades Valley, Trussville, and our Youth Center downtown, located in the former Phillips High School gymnasium. Many schools provide daily busing in the afternoons to transport kids directly from school to one of these participating Y locations.
In addition to the great diversity of sports, crafts, and academic endeavors designed to encourage and inspire your kids toward a brighter future, perhaps the BEST part of Afterschool Academy is knowing your kids are in a SAFE place after school – somewhere they just might find the the special guidance they need to go farther in life than they've ever dreamed possible.
“It’s truly wonderful providing a quality program for kids who wouldn’t get these kinds of opportunities anywhere else,” said Toneice Evans, fmr. Youth Development Director. “Being that last smile they see in the afternoons, building lifelong relationships with these kids – that’s what makes our program so special. You never know what some of these kids might be going through outside these walls. YMCA makes the difference. We truly believe in these kids.”
To learn more about YMCA's Afterschool Academy programs and enrollment for 2017-18, please visit www.ymcabham.org/afterschoolacademy, or contact your local, participating branch. For more information on the all-around benefits of afterschool programs for youth, visit http://ow.ly/Lgkg30dAJMl. #YStrongKids
MISSION: To put Judeo-Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.
VISION: We will lead our community to become the healthiest in America.
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