PHOTO: Wednesday was a skating day for the after school participants, and we caught Ben Gushulak, right, and Oscar Burnell, Kaysen Boshkaykin (seated), and Harley Burnell (pushing), at the arena.
Nine years in, Atikokan’s after school program continues to flourish.
In fact, with about 60 students in Grades 1 through 6 registered this year, likely the highest participation level yet.
On any given day, there may be anywhere from 35 to 50 children attending from both elementary schools. Part of this year’s increase comes from St. Patrick’s School, where students are now accompanied by an after school staffer on the walk over to North Star where the program is held.
The program run by the Town, with from the Ministry of Health Promotion, and is designed to support child and youth health through physical activity, nutrition, and education in health and wellness.
The program runs Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with the kids usually congregating in the North Star’s Sunshine Room by about 3:15 pm.
Weather permitting they head outside (or to the gym) to burn off some energy before having a healthy snack. Then, program coordinator Ruby Hall and assistants Gillian Barr and Gina Young coordinate either a physical activity (game, sport, hiking, skating, sliding, dance party, swimming, etc.), or arts and craft activity, (including baking) for the children until 5:30 pm.
While the students have a few educational presentations on nutrition, fitness, or even dental health, there are free days too, where children can choose their activity, movie and popcorn days, a birthday party each month, and ‘show and tell’ days.
Some of the program’s traditional outings include bus trips to the arena and swimming pool, excursions to the Hemlock Rink, and in the spring and summer, adventure walks to Little Falls and Bunnell Park.
The program always welcomes community members willing to host an activity or sport whether an art, craft, or fitness event, and anyone with a skill to share with the kids can contact the Town’s community services manager Nicole Halasz (597-1234, ext. 232).
Donations to the program are also greatly appreciated, said Hall. They help with the purchase of materials; last year, one donation made it possible to take the children on a special year-end trip to French Lake.
“We owe a big thank you to the community and parents for their support in helping to keep the program running,” said Hall.
This is the third year Hall has run the program (under the direction of Halasz) and the second for assistants Young and Barr, who are joined by high school volunteer Monica Young this year.
The program is free and parents can register their children for any or all days. For more info call Halasz or Town recreation secretary Debbie Beyak, ext. 229.