Mavrik – Sticks and Stars

“If everyone didn’t feel included, what’s the point in going?” asks 11-year-old Mavrik.

He can’t help but laugh and smile as he talks about Sticks and Stars, a unique United Way School’s Out after-school program he attends at his elementary school in Surrey.

A zero-cost program that combines science, leadership and hockey skills, Sticks and Stars fosters friendship and a strong sense of community amongst the participants.

“It’s cool because anyone can join,” continues Mavrik. “We all relate to each other, and we all stick together.”

Building an inclusive community

Stick and Stars supports boys from grades four to six, providing social, academic and physical support and activities that keep them engaged with their school and community.

The United Way donor-supported program is led by staff, coaches and program coordinators who inspire participants’ creativity, passion and imagination. These positive experiences are especially important in the crucial hours after school, when unsupervised kids can be vulnerable to bullying and youth crime.

“At first I thought we were only going to use science text books,” says Mavrik. “But they actually brought in a mad scientist and it was great. We made things blow up, we made slime…we made tons of things!”

Mavrik’s dad Ron sees the difference having a safe, supportive space to play, learn and grow has made for his son.

“He loves the team play, loves the coaching, loves the snacks. The happiness it brings him is incredible. What else can you say when your child comes home excited to do his homework and tell you about all of the things he’s learned?”

“If everyone didn’t feel included, what’s the point in going?”

United Way’s School’s Out programs provide life-changing opportunities that connect them with caring mentors, coaches and teacher, healthy foods, and recreational activities.

It’s the right connection that changes everything.

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Learning together and having fun

A poll conducted by Insights West in partnership with United Way of the Lower Mainland, found that 93% of parents say their kids learned something new at after-school programs.

For fellow grade six student Jvan, Sticks and Stars has boosted his confidence, inside and outside of the gymnasium.

“It’s has changed my way that I look at hockey, because I used to not be the biggest fan of sports,” he says.

It has also encouraged him to try new things.

“If you don’t try new things, you may get bored,” he says. But when you try new things, you explore more and maybe, you’ll learn new things from the new thing that you tried!”

Graeme Bray is a program leader with Sticks and Stars. He sees how one of the program’s greatest strengths is the positive, inclusive environment it creates for the boys, where every participant learns from the others.

Every session, they all have the opportunity to try new things, test their skills and role model for others.

“They are having fun, they’re learning all of these social and emotional skills,” he says. “The younger boys look at [the older boys] and say – ‘That’s how I’m supposed to act.’”

“They are having fun, they’re learning all of these social and emotional skills”

A unique combination

The program’s combination of athleticism and education is as purposeful, as it is fun.

“It’s so important these days to get kids in front of challenging technology, as well as having opportunities for physical release and learning gross and find motor skills.”

The transformation the participants undergo during the program is inspiring and empowering.

“It’s an amazing opportunity I have to see these young learners develop into responsible young men,” says Graeme. There are not a lot of opportunities to see growth like that when kids don’t have the necessary supervision.”

Graeme’s commitment to the program and the success of each student is appreciated by both Jvan and Mavrik.

“He goes out of his way to find the best things for us every single week.”

Mavrik agrees. “He’s energetic and he never leaves anyone out.”

They both look forward to continuing their science experiments, practicing their hockey drills and taking part in their school’s community; they each encourage other boys to join in the program.

“Really, anyone can join,” says Mavrik. “They’ll have a lot of great fun.”

“It’s an amazing opportunity I have to see these young learners develop into responsible young men”

A photo of Maverick and friends

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Tracy GreenMavrik – Sticks and Stars