By Shaunna Cullen
On October 25, YWCA New Britain’s school age program joined a larger collective of over 8,000 events nationwide and hosted a Lights On Afterschool celebration highlighting the important role afterschool programs play in the lives of children, families, and communities.
According to the Afterschool Alliance, 11.3 million children are alone and unsupervised after school. Afterschool programs keep kids safe, help working families, and inspire learning. They provide opportunities to help young people develop into successful adults.
At the event, attendees watched a short video featuring a child from each grade the school age program serves sharing why they love their afterschool program. Reasons ranged from “I get to see my friends every day” to “It helps me prepare for my future.” Each grade had their own table as well to showcase crafts and provide an activity for guests.
Several members of the STRIVE program for middle school girls read poems and performed a dance that they learned especially for the event. STRIVE’s intern Miss Holly regularly provides therapeutic dance lessons to give the girls a tool to express themselves and relieve stress in a healthy way.
In addition, the event highlighted local organizations that the School Age Program partners with such as the Central Connecticut State University Women’s Center and TRIO college prep program, Main Street Children’s Choir, Microsoft, American Savings Foundation, and New Britain ROOTS.
Students also had plenty of time to enjoy a slice of pizza with their families. By the end of the night, the importance and enjoyment of afterschool programs for children and families at the YWCA was clear.
Trish Pinero, whose daughter Alexandra attends STRIVE, said she has seen a huge change for the better in her daughter since she’s attended the program. “I’m so glad we found the YWCA. Her grades and her behavior have both gotten better,” said Trish.
Mallory Deprey, School Age Program Coordinator, gives “a huge thank you to our funders United Way, American Savings Foundation, and Nancy Sarra, Superintendent of New Britain Schools. We appreciate that they see the importance of our work. We wouldn’t be able to do it without their support.”
YWCA New Britain’s School Age Program consists of Before & After School Care, Summer Sizzlers, STRIVE for middle school girls, and House of Teens Teen Center for high school girls. For more information on any of these programs, visit our website at www.ywcanb.org.