A growing body of research indicates that after-school programs can have positive effects on a young person’s motivation, engagement in learning, expectations of success and social competencies. As well as after-school programs keep youth out of trouble by providing safe and structured time during critical afternoon hours.
Overall, the research shows that youth who are supervised and engaged in structured activities are less likely to participate in high-risk activities. For middle school students, being supervised after-school reduces by half the risk that they will smoke, drink, or abuse drugs. After-school programs also provide working parents with peace of mind about what their children are doing after-school, which helps them balance work and family responsibilities.
In addition, the majority of past youth participants have indicated that the “After the Bell” program provides them with a safe place to go after school where they felt a sense of belonging, provided them with opportunities to learn new skills, develop more independence, and allowed them to participate in service opportunities. Youth indicate they have fun while learning new things to do.
This is why the After the Bell program was created and will be kicking off its seventh year on Wednesday, Sept. 1. This program will be offered for all middle school students whether they attend public or parochial school from 3:05 – 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday in the Auditorium Lobby (enter the school through Door 22) at the Prairie River Middle School on regular school days.
The program offers participants a safe, easily accessible place to go after school where they have the opportunity to participate in positive enrichment activities. Students are offered a variety of activities and programs, can play board games, make crafts, visit with friends and have a snack. Participants are supervised by one-two adult supervisors with assistance from high school students. If students are interested in participating, they can pick up information and a required form in the Prairie River Middle School office, T.B. Scott Library, the UW-Extension office or the first day they attend the program. Completed forms must be turned in the second time you attend the program.
After the Bell is currently seeking donations from area organizations and businesses to fund this year’s program. Funds are needed for supplies and hiring individuals to provide daily supervision of the program. To date we have received funds from Optimist of Merrill, T.B. Scott Library staff and Lincoln County Safe and Stable Families fund. In addition to financial donations, the program also continues to need donations of supplies (craft items, used or new board games, and snack items).
The program is also seeking volunteers to teach projects to the youth, whether a one-time session or a series. If you are interested in sharing your talent or hobby or if you are interested in making a donation to the After the Bell 2010-2011 school year program, please contact Holly Westberg, Program Coordinator at (715) 218-7384 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Debbie Moellendorf, 4-H Youth Development Educator at the Lincoln County UW-Extension office at 539-1072 or via e-mail at email@example.com.