With a vast array of after school activities, it’s easy for your child’s schedule to quickly fill up. As children grow, the number of activities may decrease as the intensity in one specific activity increases, leaving little room for variety. Sometimes, you might not know where to start when selecting an after school activity for your child.
Luckily, you know your kids best. You are keyed into your child’s interests, strengths and talents, and channeling that energy into an after school program can make a world of difference in their athletic, artistic, academic and social aptitude.
In school, children are exposed to a variety of academic topics, some artistic, scientific, athletic, musical, etc., but many after school programs that foster potential, can come at a steep financial, time and commitment cost. With these factors at stake, knowing how to direct your child’s attention after school hours can be tricky.
However, in the Longmont community, after school programs through local recreation services or youth programs are being offered more readily. Karen Pierce, youth program leader for recreation services in Longmont, oversees an after school program called The Place for students who attend Sunset Middle School and Longs Peak Middle School.
The Place is a program offered by the city of Longmont recreation services and is an after school program starting within minutes of the school day’s close and ending at approximately 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. This program provides daily activities, specific clubs and field trips, geared toward students’ preferences and personal interests.
“Whether students are interested in attending only specific programs or are interested in being involved on a daily basis, The Place is THE Place to be,” according to The Place website.
“We hope to provide our youth with a safe and fun environment that ultimately nurtures their character development and leadership potential,” Pierce says. “By building relationships with kids, we hope to give them a place where they feel valued and encouraged to achieve success as they experiment and engage with new and unique activities… maybe even to inspire a new life’s passion or two.”
At The Place, the children can generally choose to participate in two to three clubs each day. The clubs are focused on student interest and range from Sports Club, Arts Club, Community Club, Ultimate Frisbee Club, Outdoor Club, Cooking Club, Science Club and Hip Hop Club.
“These clubs and activities are largely driven by student interest and feedback with the hope of cultivating new passions and hobbies among our students,” Pierce says.
The focus of the clubs may change from week to week, as Sports Club may offer soccer, basketball, volleyball, etc., and not stick with only one sport. “Community club will involve volunteer trips around the city or visits to venues such as the art museum or public library,” Pierce says. “Arts club seeks to bring out the inner artist in all students. This year we are working with Art in Public Places to have students showcase their work throughout Longmont on bike racks or electrical boxes.”
In addition to the regular club offerings, each Friday, The Place program takes its students on an off-site field trip. Some of the excursions in the past have included: hiking, ice skating, trips to the skate park, highs ropes courses, the movies, corn mazes and museums.
“This year we are striving to cultivate partnerships with businesses around the Longmont area in order to provide as many authentic opportunities for students to engage in their community and showcase their talents as possible,” she says.
These students have to be accountable to their studies first and foremost. They’re required to provide progress reports to participate in the activities. If the students need additional time or attention to their homework, they partake in the Study Club offering, which is held three times each week and supervised by The Place staff who work closely with school teachers and administrators.
Ultimately, no matter what type of program or extracurricular activity children are enrolled in, it’s essential to get them involved outside of school, too. And with programs like The Place, which is offered to the Longmont community at no cost, it can have a significant impact on the lives of each student.
“More than 90 percent of our youth attend The Place three to five times each week. Because our program is a drop-in program, one of the biggest impacts we are making is that students are choosing a social, meaningful, fun and nurturing environment,” Pierce says. “And, 60 percent of our students said that if they did not attend The Place, they would be watching TV or playing video games. So, we are exposing them to new ideas, encouraging them to live life and grow as individuals.”
For more information about after school programs in the Longmont community, please visit:
The Place: ci.longmont.co.us/rec/teen/place.htm
Or visit your local gym or school and inquire about after school programs.
-Story by Dominique Del Grosso – Photos courtesy of The Place