Grand Prairie Afterschool Program continues to grow

by dentonramsey

Grand Prairie Afterschool Program continues to grow

 

By Denton Ramsey / Sports Editor

 

It appears as though more and more kids want to stay after school rather than go home to an empty household.

Enrollment in the Grand Prairie Afterschool Program increased 12 percent this past year, and those numbers are expected to continue to grow.

“This is the most promising growth since the program’s inception,” Contract Administrator Jennifer Vuitel said. “The program is helping to ensure children don’t go home to empty houses, and it’s so much more than just babysitting.”
The Afterschool Program grew from 475 to 530 children in 2005-06, and the number of participating schools grew as well.

“The Afterschool Program is having another excellent year,” Vuitel said. “With the program at 19 schools and enrollment around 575, the 2006 – 2007 school year is looking to be the best one yet.”

The program includes competition such as spelling bees and art contests, and sets time aside for homework as well as structured game time.

In addition, the Afterschool Program participates in Grand Prairie ISD’s Character Counts program that helps instill values such as respect, courtesy and integrity into the students.

“It has been tremendously enriching to have the opportunity to be involved with a program like this,” Vuitel said. “Partnerships such as this, between the City, the school district and the local YMCA are very rare and we have been receiving many inquiries from other organizations looking to duplicate our success.”

The Afterschool Program has also grown from 10 schools participating in 2000 to 19 schools now being involved in a three-way partnership between Grand Prairie ISD, the City of Grand Prairie and the YMCA.

With the latest partnership, the Afterschool Program can deliver quality and affordable afterschool childcare.

“Having a city council that places such a high priority on children and a school district ready to house the program makes this program possible,” Vuitel said. “And the expertise provided by the YMCA is the icing on the cake.”

According to Vuitel, the city’s partnership with Grand Prairie ISD and YMCA is one of a kind and has proven successful as the city helps underwrite the program, the YMCA brings the childcare experience, and the Grand Prairie ISD contributes educational expertise as well as physical locations for the program.

“Parent’s don’t have to worry about their kids catching a bus,” Vuitel said. “The kids are already at school, which is a nice safety feature.”

The program begins when school is let out for the day at 3:15 p.m. and ends at 6:30 p.m.

Busing is provided for students from elementary schools not currently served by the program.

To make the program available to all children, scholarships are available for those unable to pay the $45 per week cost.

The newest addition to a growing list of participating schools is Marshall Elementary.

The other 18 elementary schools participating in the program are Austin, Bonham, Bowie, Bush, Crockett, Dickinson, Eisenhower, Florence Hill, Garner, Houston, Milam, Moore, Powell, Rayburn, Sequin, Travis, Whitt and Zavala.

To enroll, call the Grand Prairie YMCA at 972-642-9632.

 

Sports Editor Denton Ramsey can be reached via e-mail at denton.ramsey@gmail.com

 

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