“I liked that he could stay at his school and avoid riding the bus,” Williams says. She notes that the Y program has provided the right mix of structure and fun in a safe setting. “Evenings are busy, especially for parents like me who work outside the home, so I really appreciate that his homework is done before I pick him up, and that he also has time to play each day.”
The Y began partnering with Chatham County Schools in 2009 to offer afterschool programs throughout the district. The relationship has proven to be mutually beneficial, according to Jessica Wimberly, children’s services director for the Y.
“Previously, some Chatham County schools had afterschool programs and others didn’t. By combining the Y’s resources with that of the school district’s, we are able to strengthen these communities and offer consistent, affordable care to kids throughout the county,” Wimberly says.
In response to parents’ requests, the program at J.S. Waters was initiated by Robbie Sirls, a teacher’s assistant who also serves as the afterschool program’s site director.
“We had had summer programs at the school before, but parents wanted an afterschool option, specifically one that would help kids complete their homework,” Sirls says. Enrollment has increased from six to eight children during 2010-11, to 15 this past school year.
Wimberly attributes the J.S. Waters program’s growth to word-of-mouth advertising. “We’re a simple solution for parents, providing a safe, fun place where kids can get homework support, physical activity and mentoring,” she says.
On a typical day, children at J.S. Waters start their afterschool time on the school’s playground before enjoying a snack and doing their homework. Sirls and another staff member assist with homework questions and, since the program is on-site at the school, query a child’s teacher if necessary. Children who do not have homework rotate among several activity centers. When homework is done, children can play outdoors -- weather permitting -- or in the school’s gym or cafeteria.
“All of the Y’s programs are based on relationships – that’s what the Y is all about – and there is a strong sense of family at J.S. Waters that is largely due to Robbie and her staff and how they interact with the children and their parents,” Wimberly says. “They create an atmosphere of ‘community’
Further information about the Y’s afterschool program in Chatham County can be obtained at http://www.chcymca.org/
About the Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA
The Chapel Hill-Carrboro YMCA strengthens the foundations of its community by nurturing children’s potential, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. Whether developing skills or emotional well-being through education and training, welcoming and connecting diverse demographic populations, or preventing chronic disease and building healthier communities through collaborations with policymakers, the Y fosters the care and respect that all people need and deserve.
If you would like more information, please contact:
Senior Membership & Marketing Director
Chapel Hill - Carrboro YMCA
980 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Chapel Hill, NC 27514
5401 Hough Road
Hillsborough, NC 27278