Not just anyone can host 20-plus kids after school for a few hours of fun and games.
The logistics put most of us out of the running, plus who’s got the space or the time to throw the equivalent of a high-end birthday party a couple times a week? The answer is no one.
Unless you’re the City of Selkirk and you partner with the Lord Selkirk School Division.
Coming together for the kids
Since 2011 the City of Selkirk has provided funding to staff its after school program and provide some equipment for sports and games and the Lord Selkirk School Division has stepped up and allowed the program to run in its schools. Along with the school division, the Selkirk Community Renewal Corporation provides sponsorship for the program.
Shelly Leonard, Program Coordinator with the City of Selkirk, says it’s a program the city has always been excited to offer, because it helps out parents and kids.
“We live in a world where parents often work long hours or shift work and finding really good and affordable child care is difficult,” Leonard said.
“Our after school program is fun, kids tell the supervisors all the time how much they enjoy it, and it’s free. We want to make sure all parents know that this is out there for them, and we want them to make use of it.”
Fun leaders make fun kids
Karli Vigfusson is the after school program coordinator and says each school is staffed with four leaders, usually high school or university students, who are trained by a facilitator from Fit Kids Healthy Kids, a Physical Literacy program founded as a partnership between Doctors Manitoba and Sport Manitoba.
The objective of the program is to provide a safe and fun environment for youth in Selkirk to socialize, complete homework and be physically active outside of regular school hours.
The registration process includes a thorough form that provides staff with any information they need about the children, such as allergies and phone numbers in case they need to call parents.
Lots of fun in a short time
The program runs from 3:30 to 5:30 after school at Centennial and Daerwood on Monday and Wednesday; on Tuesday and Thursday it’s at Ruth Hooker and on Thursday and Friday it moves over to Robert Smith.
Vigfusson says the program kicks off with a healthy snack for the kids and then moves into crafts and games, either in the school gym or outside on the playground.
“It can get loud,” Vigfusson laughs.
“The kids have a good time, they’re with their friends and they have a lot of fun. They develop a really good relationship with the staff members too and I think the staff honestly have as much fun as the kids.”
Active learning and active fun
There’s structured activities geared more towards the younger students and staff will play games with them that they’re familiar with. For older kids there’s an opportunity for less structured playtime. They’re still supervised, but given more freedom to organize their own activities.
The program also tries to bring in outside organizations to teach the kids different kinds of professions and to offer exciting new ways to learn.
“We’ve had organizations like the RCMP, the fire department and Fit Kids Healthy Kids come in and offer fun new learning opportunities. It’s a good way to keep things interesting and teach them things they wouldn’t normally learn in school,” said Vigfusson.
The program is popular, with around 100-120 students in attendance between the four elementary schools.
The after school programs accept students all year long. For more information, contact Karli Vigfusson, After School Program Coordinator at [email protected].