When you think of all of your fondest childhood memories, chances are they took place after school. In a world that is growing more and more dangerous for kids every day, you might be concerned that your kids won’t get the same kinds of experiences that you got to have. Where you might remember running and playing, with the support of your community and people always willing to teach you, it is easy to worry that your child will remember being stuck inside with video games and nobody to talk to.
Finding an after school care program that provides a community feeling and the freedom that only weekday afternoons can have is sometimes a challenge. Finding an after school program that encourages parents, friends, and family to get involved feels like trying to find a unicorn in a magical forest: ever sought after but never obtained. Behold, the unicorn has been discovered in the place that has been right under your nose the whole time: The local YMCA.
For years, the YMCA has been an important facet in the community, and now it is quickly becoming an important aspect of thousands of bay area children’s after school lives. With programs to help any range of ages, from your toddlers to your teens and even adults, the YMCA provides everything from swim lessons to reading sessions. They also offer youth sports and teen leaders clubs to teach your children the ins and outs of government. They are also still offering a summer camp that focuses on different areas to help your child practice their favorite talents for these last few weeks of summer.
Parents, family members, and even members of the community can come volunteer to read to children and teach them new skills. “I love volunteering with these kids, it’s just a really great way to give back,” said Jeff Balek, a volunteer reading buddy in the Y Readers program. Volunteers like Balek, who was born blind, give kids the chance to see that they can overcome any obstacle, and provide kids with the support they need to get through their own challenges.
The Y’s after school program focuses on providing a healthy and safe place to develop trusting relationships and build self-reliance. Your child will learn the values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility, which are important traits that the world can use more of. Kids will also get the kind of exciting afternoons that build lifelong friendships, just like you had, without the worry of wondering where your kids are. Enrollment is currently open for the coming school year. For information on your local YMCA and to find more enrollment information, visit ymcatampabay.org.