Y-ASPIRE network expands to Putney

PUTNEY — Thanks to Meeting Waters YMCA, hundreds of kids in southeastern Vermont and southwestern New Hampshire can continue to learn and develop important social skills even after the bell rings at the end of the school day.

At least as importantly, says Steve Fortier, the organization's Executive Director, that also means that several hundred parents can work 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 Y-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 is all about supporting working parents.”

Now in its 17th year of operations, the network of the Y's After-School Program for Inspiration, Recreation and Education (Y-ASPIRE) has expanded once again.

A new site will open on the first day of school at Putney Central School. The program also takes place at Brattleboro's Oak Grove, Green Street, and Academy schools; Dummerston School; Rockingham Central School (which also serves Saxtons River Elementary School and Bellows Falls Middle School); and Walpole (N.H.) Primary School (which serves North Walpole and Walpole Elementary schools, as well).

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.

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. Monthly family events focus on strengthening healthy family habits.

Three other Meeting Waters YMCA programs complement the ASPIRE program to provide year-round “out-of-school” supports for kids and their parents. 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 Y Day Camp - with busing from Brattleboro, Putney, Bellows Falls, and six 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 [email protected].

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