BELLOWS FALLS—Thanks to Meeting Waters YMCA, hundreds of kids in southeastern Vermont can continue to learn and develop important social skills even after the bell rings at the end of the school day.
Now in its 15th year of operation, the Y’s After-School Program for Inspiration, Recreation and Education (ASPIRE) takes place at Brattleboro’s Oak Grove, Green Street, and Academy schools; Dummerston School; at Meeting Waters YMCA’s Bellows Falls facility for students that attend Saxtons River School and Rockingham Central School; and, new this year, Guilford Central School.
The Y-ASPIRE program runs after school for each of the 180 school days. It also runs for full days on all school vacations and most holidays, as well as for half-days on teacher in-service and other early release days. In all, the program operates for over 210 days during the school year.
Steve Fortier, the organization’s executive director, says the program provides hundreds of area parents with the peace of mind that their child is in a safe and nurturing environment.
“When Sue (Fortier, the Y’s Program Director) and I created ASPIRE in 1998, we made sure that it would meet the needs of working parents,” said Fortier. “What we do at ASPIRE is all about positive youth development. When we do ASPIRE, it is all about supporting working parents.”
Each day of a Y-ASPIRE program includes physical activity, nutritious snack, assisted study time and a cooperative group project. Activities are centered around monthly themes such as Different But the Same; Our Community; and Kindness and Justice.
Through various activities, students in Y-ASPIRE develop “life skills” such as cooperation, problem-solving, group decision-making and leadership. They also learn more about themselves, their community and their world. Service learning projects benefit other community agencies as well as the ASPIRE participants. Monthly family events focus on family strengthening and health.
Three other Meeting Waters YMCA programs complement the ASPIRE program to provide year-round “out-of-school” supports for kids and their parents.
Their Kindergarten ASPIRE program runs during the first two weeks of school in Brattleboro. During that time, kindergarten ends at 1 p.m.,which provides a challenge for working parents. For the past nine years, Meeting Waters YMCA has filled that void.
The regional Y’s Snow Days Program in Brattleboro provides full day care when schools are unexpectedly closed due to inclement weather.
And, when the school year ends, Meeting Waters YMCA’s Lewis Day Camp — with busing from Brattleboro, Putney, Westminster, Bellows Falls and five other Vermont and New Hampshire communities — then kicks in to serve kids and parents in the summer months.
Financial assistance for all Meeting Waters YMCA “out-of-school” programs is available through the New Hampshire and Vermont Childcare Subsidy programs and Meeting Waters YMCA’s Reach Out to Youth scholarship fund.
As in all of the YMCA’s programs, no one will be denied access to ASPIRE for lack of ability to pay full program fees. For more information and registration materials, visit www.meetingwatersymca.org, call Meeting Waters YMCA’s main office at 802-463-4769, or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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