The after-school hours can be difficult for the thousands of kids younger than age 12 who don’t attend an after-school program. The United Way BC School’s Out program was designed to meet this need. Photo courtesy United Way

The after-school hours can be difficult for the thousands of kids younger than age 12 who don’t attend an after-school program. The United Way BC School’s Out program was designed to meet this need. Photo courtesy United Way

United Way BC helps families thrive through after-school programming

Imagine you’re 6 years old. Grade one! You love your teacher and enjoy making friends. Every day you ride the bus and after school, you’re on your own with your older sister until your parent(s) gets home from work.

Because your sister is just a kid too, she does her own thing, so you make a snack when there’s food in the house and find something to watch on TV. But you’re lonely, bored, and wish you were with other kids.

Many families find themselves in similar situations when an enriching after-school program is not available or not an option, mostly due to affordability or location.

In the Thompson Nicola Cariboo, there are nearly 24,000 students and only about 41 per cent of them access after-school care. For the thousands who don’t, the hours after school can be difficult, especially for vulnerable youth. United Way BC School’s Out program was designed to meet this need.

For kids like Karen, School’s Out has made a difference by giving her and her siblings a safe space that offers so much between 3 and 6pm.

Like many families struggling to make ends meet, they’re living on a single income. Their dad works long hours while their mom finishes her degree. They couldn’t afford to send their kids to a quality after-school care program, but because of School’s Out, they’re building relationships, creating support systems, learning skills, and having fun. Karen said she was shy, but she is enjoying the program. “I like playing with kids, playing tag and stuff,” she shared. “It’s given me more self-confidence and I’m starting to get better at talking to people.”

School’s Out provides mental health support, physical activity, nutritious and culturally appropriate snacks, and help with homework. Being taught life skills can have a profound impact on a child’s well-being and their ability to overcome adversity.

For over a decade, School’s Out has been providing quality after-school care for kids in the Lower Mainland. Because the need has been identified in many communities, United Way BC is expanding the program to our region, working with Kamloops Immigrant Services to support vulnerable families.

“Every child in BC deserves access to programming and activity year-round that support their wellness and ability to thrive. United Way BC School’s Out programming addresses systemic challenges head-on, providing quality and accessible programming throughout the year that support children and their families to give kids a great start in life,” said Jasica Gerwal, Director of Community Impact and Investment at United Way BC.

This is just one more way United Way BC is strengthening vital connections.

United Way BC. Here. For brighter futures.

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