Imagine you’re six 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 situations like this when an enriching after-school program is not available or not an option, mostly due to affordability or location.
The Vancouver School District alone has about 48,500 students, and only about 41 per cent of kids under the age of 12 attend an after-school program. For the thousands of kids 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 and her siblings, School’s Out has made a difference by giving them a safe space that offers so much between 3 and 6 p.m.
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, and playing.
Karen said she was shy, but she’s 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 has 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 34 programs across the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Because the need has been identified in many communities, United Way BC is expanding the program to other regions across the province.
“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.