Programs aim to keep kids busy after school

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 8, 2002

The goal of the open arms program is to ensure no child has to go home alone after school. Community groups including the YMCA, The Salvation Army, Arc, The Rock, extension services, and the Albert Lea Community Child Care Center have joined forces with Albert Lea Public Schools to create a sort of directory for after-school programs.

Funded by a federal grant, the program is in its second year.

&uot;Parents really appreciate the peace of mind that comes with knowing where your children are,&uot; said organizer Terry Gjersvik of Albert Lea Schools.

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Gjersvik said the school was aware of many children going unsupervised after school and concerned about the safety risks involved and that was part of the reason for applying for the grant two years ago. The community agencies also helped in the application process, writing letters of support.

Albert Lea School district is one of only 30 districts in the state and 3,000 in the nation to receive funding from the 21st Century Community Learning Center grant.

Representatives pointed out that each program is different and they don’t view it as a competition for higher attendance.

&uot;We would rather see a student in an after-school program than sitting at home alone,&uot; said Julie Dunn, YMCA youth programs director.

More information will be available for parents on each of the programs at district 241’s pre-conference days Aug. 29-30.

Some of the programs have registration and daily fees, and the YMCA programs both have registration deadlines. For Kinder Express, parents need to register their child by Aug. 19; for School’s Out, the deadline for registration is Aug. 26. Children will still be able to attend if signed up late but they will have to wait a week to start attending.

Programs and contact information:

– Albert Lea Area Schools: A targeted services program to be scheduled in September for specific ages and academic areas. Contact Terry Gjersvik at 379-4807.

– Albert Lea Community Child Care Center: After-school programs are full but waiting lists are forming. Contact Heidi Jenson at 373-7979.

– Albert Lea Family YMCA: School’s Out and Kinder Express programs. Contact Julie Dunn at 373-8228.

– ARC of Freeborn County: After-school program for the developmentally disabled and siblings, and a bowling night. Contact Jo Lowe at 377-3469.

– Freeborn County Extension Services: Works with the YMCA’s program making 4-H membership available to Schools Out participants. Contact Sharon Davis and Pat Stumme at 377-5660.

– The Salvation Army: After-school program with bussing. Contact Nancy Krowiorz at 373-5710.

– Youth for Christ-The Rock: Open daily for drop-ins after school. Contact Robin Gudal at 373-1051.