Today in BC, in more than two-thirds of families, both parents work. The statistics are even higher for single-parent families. That means that many school-age children have no-one to go home to after school before parents return home from work. Most youth crime happens between 3 and 6 pm. The way children spend their time outside school plays a vital role in determining their health and development, the choices they make and ultimately, their future success. Access to quality after-school programs helps children succeed and develop self-confidence and social skills. That’s why United Way invested $5.1 million in after-school programs that keep kids safe, help them feel they belong, find great role models, and grow their confidence so that they reach their full potential. Programs like Qayqayt Elementary’s “Run and Read” program in New Westminster. The six-week program is incredibly popular: 50 children are registered. Grade 5 student Nicolas says his favourite part of the Run and Read program is “that everybody gets to have fun, no matter what differences there are between the people.” “Kids get the opportunity to run outside in the park and then return to the school where they get greeted with a healthy snack,” says Rick Bloudell, Community School Coordinator, Qayqayt Elementary. “They have a nice little cool down and then they get together where they read.” Healthy nutritious snacks are an important part of the Run and Read program. With an average of one in five children living in poverty in BC, these kinds of after-school programs that not only provide a safe, supportive place for kids to thrive but also healthy snacks is especially important. “Children between the ages of 6 and 12 reach significant developmental milestones,” explains Angie Osachoff, Community Impact Planner, United Way of the Lower Mainland. “Research shows that quality after-school programs are one of the key assets to help kids grow into strong and resilient youth.” During middle childhood, children begin to develop key thinking and conceptual skills, as well as a sense of identity and independence. But, challenges—including low self-esteem, obesity and mental health issues—also emerge at this crucial age that can impact children’s mental and physical well-being for the rest of their lives. Help us give local kids the support they need with a donation to United Way.
Children participate in Read and Run at New Westminster’s Qayqiyt Elementary school.