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Keeping the Lights on for Children

Written by ryan. Posted in Uncategorized

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Published on October 13, 2010 with No Comments

By Rey Perez
The school bell just rang to signal the end of another school day.
Some parents are able to wait at the curb as the tikes come flooding out of the front doors and home for some afternoon adventures.
But what about the children whose parents are still hard at work? Do those parents leave their children to wait for them until the work day is finished?
They might have, if not for the programs the YMCA has put in place to keep the “lights on after school” for the children.

On Thursday, Oct. 21, children, parents, educators and celebrities will be doing their part in celebrating the 11th annual nation-wide rally for after school programs. Ever since the Afterschool Alliance organized its first Lights on Afterschool event back in the year 2000, the program has increased in popularity and growth.

The Lights on Afterschool program is a day where groups across the country celebrate and pledge their allegiance to keeping kids safe and focused during the times when their parents are not available. The importance for such a cause appears great, as over 7,500 events across the United States and U.S military bases worldwide will rally up for after school programs.

Local organizations like the YMCA, Boys and Girls Clubs and 4-H club all support and have organized after school programs to encourage further learning and enrichment of children’s minds. The Portage Township YMCA will be recognizing and celebrating this nationwide event in their Y-care and K-Care programs.

The YMCA’s Y-care program was designed for children in grades first through eighth enrolled in one of the six Portage Township elementary schools located in Portage, Nativity and Portage Christian. The K-care program was developed for kindergarten age children during the school day hours they are not in class.

Jen Cameron, or “Ms. Jen,” is the K-care coordinator who keeps the children’s minds sharp with daily activities such as crafts, games and circle time, where the children are taught about values.

“We keep things short a sweet, and then follow with a fun activity to let the kid’s run around,” Cameron said.

Cameron has worked with children her entire life, from her mom babysitting all the neighbored children while she grew up, to taking over the duties when she was of age. Cameron also served as a special education teacher’s aid and day care employee before joining the Portage YMCA in August as a natural fit for their program.

To do their part in celebrating the Lights on Afterschool day, the children from the Y-care program will be creating light bulb pictures that will explain their favorite moments and memories from the time at the YMCA. Each child’s light bulb will be proudly showcased around the YMCA for all to marvel at.

The idea is the brainchild of Amanda Glasser, school-age child care coordinator at the YMCA. While Glasser, who has an education background, does not actually perform day-to-day activities within the classroom, she oversees all of the Y and K-Care programs, and pops in to see the children at least once a week.

In addition to creating the light bulbs for all to enjoy, the YMCA will also celebrate the Lights on Afterschool initiative by waiving their registration fee for all new participants of the Y and K-Care programs the week of Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 to encourage more parents to register their children. Glasser hopes that parents will not only use the K and Y-Care as a babysitting facility, but will actively participate in activities to create a whole family environment.

When signing children up for primary memberships in the program, parents are granted gym membership – a nice incentive.

All in all, the Portage YMCA will be doing its best come Oct. 21 to promote after school programs along with thousands of others. According to their program philosophy, the YMCA strives to help participants grow physically, mentally and spiritually while providing challenging activities in both small and large group settings under the guidance of caring, well trained YMCA staff. The role they play in the Portage area keeps that philosophy strong.

For more information on the Lights on After School program or the Portage Township YMCA, contact Amanda Glasser at 219-762-9622, or at HYPERLINK “mailto:Amanda@ymcaofportage.org”Amanda@ymcaofportage.org. For additional information, visit the Portage Township YMCA ‘s Web site at HYPERLINK “http://www.ymcaofportage.org”www.ymcaofportage.org, or find them on Facebook.

Some 75,000 posters are being sent to Lights on Afterschool event sites all over the nation featuring art designed by Lavionna, a student in the Harambee Afterschool Arts Program in Philadelphia, Pa.


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