With the new school year in full swing, Waltham Boys & Girls Club is ready to implement its afterschool programming and introduce new opportunities for Waltham youth to engage with their peers, caring mentors and participate in a wide array of enriching programs.
Executive Director Erica Young says this new school year offers a reinvigorated sense of purpose for Club staff. After 18 months of remote learning, emerging studies suggest students have fallen behind academically and are struggling socially and emotionally having been isolated at home for so long. Afterschool programming is expected to play an important role in the pandemic recovery to help get students back on track.
“The past year and a half has been incredibly challenging for our youth and families,” said Young. “As we recover from the pandemic, we are seeing even more urgent needs and are responding to address them. Our afterschool programs will continue to play a critical role in the academic success, as well as social and emotional wellbeing of our members.”
With new staff members, Waltham Boys & Girls Club will continue to introduce innovative and age-appropriate activities for members that encourage curiosity, discovery, creativity, and teamwork. “We are excited to continue investing in our staff to deliver innovative programs that will support our members’ invaluable social, emotional, physical and academic growth long after the school day ends,” added Operations Director Aubree Cecil.
One major investment this new school year has been the hiring of youth development staff to support new program models that support members at all levels. The Out of School Time 21st Century Learning Center, funded by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and geared towards students in grades 1-5, is a professionally supervised program in which children can grow and learn in a fun, safe, and supportive environment when school is not in session.
For middle school and high school students, Waltham Boys & Girls Club will offer a mentor-guided approach where members have a say in what activities are held from day to day. Under the supervision of Middle School Coordinator Guy Robinson and High School Coordinator Rebecca Kravetz, the Middle School Center and High School Teen Center will feature a drop-in model for teens. “Instead of having hard and strict classes set up, we want to invite local students to engage in activities that interest them, like music production, STEM, and the creative arts,” said Robinson.
A major part of the Waltham Boys & Girls Club’s afterschool program initiative is to help engage young people through new experiences, while improving their academic performance, college and career preparation, social and emotional development, and health and wellness. While afterschool programs serving youth are not new, Young says there is growing recognition that they are critical for helping young people grow into well-rounded, successful adults.
“Students who regularly attend quality afterschool programs consistently demonstrate better academic performance and behavior in the classroom, stronger peer relations and emotional adjustment, along with lower incidences of delinquency. The Waltham Boys & Girls Club is committed to supporting our members at every stage of their life.”
To learn more about after school programs available at the Waltham Boys & Girls Club, visit www.walthambgc.org or call (781) 893-6620.