After-school program helps kids thrive and makes learning fun

By Admin  |  July 8, 2021

“I can’t imagine not having this after-school program. We wouldn’t have as much social connection, and we wouldn’t do as many fun activities.” says Toby.

This could never have been truer than in the past year.

13-year-old Toby loves soccer, drawing, and playing video games. His favourite subjects are social studies and science, but he doesn’t like doing homework—pretty typical for a seventh-grader.

A few years ago, Toby and his family moved to Canada and settled in North Vancouver. You can imagine how overwhelming being a newcomer family may be: experiencing the shock of the high cost of living in the Lower Mainland, navigating new healthcare processes, and accessing vital support services. But one of the biggest challenges is finding a community to be part of—finding social connection and a sense of belonging. This can be a difficult adjustment at any time, especially for children. Add a global pandemic into the mix, and everything becomes a lot more difficult.

Fortunately, Toby soon made some friends in his class, and thanks to an innovative United Way School’s Out program, he was able to spend more time with them after school to strengthen those bonds.

“It makes me feel happy because I get to spend more time with my friends outside of school,” says Toby. “The activities we do are really fun, and I get to learn new things. Doing them with my friends just brings joy, really.”

Thanks to the generosity of United Way donors like you, Toby was connected to a local School’s Out program run by Capilano Community Services Society. This fun, educational program combines interactive skill-building with inspiring field trips. The kids are introduced to new ideas, different cultures, and places that they may not otherwise be exposed to due to their personal circumstances. The program has a focus on social and emotional learning with staff supporting school-aged children to broaden their view on the world and their role within it.

Empowering school-aged kids to reach their full potential

Kids and youth these days are more worried than ever about the future, their education, health, friendships and social networks — they are yearning for a sense of normalcy and connection.

United Way School’s Out programs provide a safe, secure, and nurturing space where they can learn from trusted mentors, feel validated by their peers and improve on social and emotional skills that will help them become more resilient and succeed in life.

“You want to be able to offer your child a lot of different opportunities, and there are reasons why we can’t do that sometimes. I know that he has a safe space with his friends.” says Toby’s mom, Marylou. “Toby has something to look forward to each week. It’s really precious to him and precious for us to see his reaction each week when he tells us the great time he’s had.”

The School’s Out program has exposed Toby to a world of experiences that he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to do without the support of United Way donors.

It’s often the kids who would benefit the most from these valuable supports, who can’t access them

Shockingly, 1 in 5 kids in BC grows up in poverty. United Way School’s Out programs provide a much-needed social safety net that prevents vulnerable kids from entering a downward spiral of negative consequences.

“Out-of-school time is a crucial part of healthy childhood development, and we believe the opportunity to participate in quality activities should be barrier-free and fun.” says Jasica Grewal, Evaluation and Strategic Initiatives Manager, Community Impact & Investment, United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Your acts of local love empower more kids like Toby to build confidence and resiliency, engage with their peers, learn from positive role models, and ultimately understand themselves better and the future leaders they are becoming.

Your generosity means we can continue to expand School’s Out programs during this critical time of helping our communities recover so that more children and their families can see just how much can be achieved when we all work together. United Way School’s Out programs play a key role in strengthening vital connections and building healthy, caring and inclusive communities for all.

Show your local love. Donate today.

Your support changes lives

Not all kids have the support they need. Giving to United Way is one very tangible way to make a real difference in a child’s life. $295 allows one child to participate in a life-changing United Way School’s Out program. Please give generously today.