Innovative YMCA after-school program aims to boost kids’ grades and improve health, social skills

 

(MONCTON, Jan. 26, 2017) – The YMCA of Greater Moncton has launched an innovative after-school program that aims to help children boost their grades, improve their health and enhance their social skills.

 

Dubbed ‘Beyond the Bell’, the pilot program began in December and is currently being offered free of charge to 30 children at Edith Cavell School in Moncton, with space still available for 10 more, says Benoit DesRoches, the YMCA’s Beyond the Bell Program Coordinator.

 

“We’re already hearing some great feedback from parents and school staff about Beyond the Bell,” says DesRoches. “The program takes a holistic approach to the well-being of every child, emphasizing literacy, numeracy, recreation, nutrition and character development. It’s a wonderful community support that gives children the additional help they need to keep pace with their grade level and peers. The program has been a success at other YMCAs in Canada and we’re thrilled to be offering it here in Moncton.”

 

In partnership with the Anglophone East School District, the YMCA is working with Edith Cavell staff to identify children who would benefit from the program, which will run until late June, says DesRoches.

 

Selected students from Edith Cavell attend the Beyond the Bell program after school until 5:30 p.m. three days a week, one group participating Mondays and Wednesdays, another on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with the groups combining on Fridays. YMCA ‘Role Models’ work with students in the program in a low one-to-five ratio.

 

“The Role Models provide academic support and exposure to a variety of activities that build social skills and coping mechanisms, increase cultural understanding and nutritional knowledge, and improve physical and mental well-being,” says DesRoches “Typically, the first hour is spent on tutoring, homework or academic activities like educational board games. The next is spent preparing and enjoying a healthy snack and learning about healthy eating principles and kitchen skills. The final hour is for physical activity or arts-based activity like colouring. It’s a very well-rounded program.”

 

The Role Models collaborate with school administrators, teachers and principals to set goals and programming for each child in the Beyond the Bell program, he says, adding that objectives are consistent with school curriculum.

 

“By working together, we really hope to help these children create better futures for themselves,” says DesRoches.

 

The Beyond the Bell program and its impact will be evaluated by children, parents and teachers several times throughout the year, he says. Indicators of success will include an increase reading levels, an increase in ability to deal with conflict, an increase in confidence, and an increase in physical activity, nutrition and overall health.

 

The local YMCA was able to unveil the program as a result of a grant from the New Brunswick Children’s Foundation as well as funding from Loblaw, Tangerine and other private funders.

 

For more information on the YMCA’s Beyond the Bell program, contact Benoit DesRoches at 857-0606 or Benoit.DesRoches@ymcamoncton.com.