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Putting the cool in after-school

Posted: February 1, 2017

kiwassa

Afternoons Monday through Friday, kids stream out of Tillicum and Hastings Schools in East Vancouver. Some go home with their parents, while others ‘hop on’ the walking school bus for the 10 to 20 minute walk to Kiwassa Neighbourhood House. There these six to 10 year olds get a healthy snack then they are off to art and yoga classes. The Innovation Club where kids build things is also popular. At Bollywood Fever, they can learn latest songs. Or, they can sing with the Children’s Choir. The food and activities are all part of a United Way-funded after-school program designed to help kids grow up great. And in this neighbourhood, programs like this are critical.

That’s because almost 50% kids in Vancouver’s Hastings Sunrise neighbourhood are vulnerable – one of the highest levels in BC. Childhood poverty in the area ranges between 20 and almost 30%. And, when children are vulnerable they can struggle in school and later life.

Across the Lower Mainland in neighbourhoods like Hastings Sunrise, many kids don’t have access to quality after-school programs or the adequate nutrition needed to help them reach their full potential. Too many of them are living in circumstances that put their futures at risk. Thanks to United Way donors, that’s changing.

In 2016, United Way invested $5.1 million to help school-aged Lower Mainland children succeed. Because of your generosity, almost 50,000 kids had a safe place to go after school. They get help with homework, participate in recreational and creative programs that build their confidence and get the healthy snacks and meals so they can grow up great.

“Food is huge. It brings people together,” says Sarah Kamdar, Children’s Program Coordinator. She adds that when kids are nourished, they have energy, they feel grounded and they can concentrate on learning.

“They begin to smile. They develop confidence. Programs like the one offered at Kiwassa truly believe in the potential of every child and that is just so important to their futures,” says Kim Winchell, Director of Social Impact with United Way of the Lower Mainland.

Every child deserves the opportunity to reach their potential no matter where they live or where they are from. Programs like this help children thrive.

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