October 20, 2020

Overwhelming response to Afterschool Programme

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Students enjoy drumming during one of the many afterschool activities available to government high school students.

In just three weeks the secondary schools’ Extended Afterschool Programme (EASP) has recorded an overwhelming response with more than 800 registrations and some 500 students participating weekly.

The free programme offers students attending government high schools 31 activities, including martial arts, power lifting, swimming, sailing, scuba diving, dance and media club, between the hours of 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.

Education Ministry Chief Officer Mary Rodrigues explains that the programme was launched jointly by the Ministries of Education and Youth to reduce opportunities for students to adopt at-risk behaviours.

“The programme provides a safe, fun and productive environment between 3:00 and 6:00 p.m. until parents return from work. Students on our at-risk register are encouraged to attend, but the programme is open to all students.”

Students try out new moves during the dance activity.

Commenting on the overwhelming community response the programme has received Education Ministry Liaison Officer for At-risk Youth and EASP Coordinator Michael Myles says he’s excited that it has been such a tremendous success.  He noted, “This proves that the programme is a worthwhile investment for the future of this country.”

Piloted from April-June 2011 with nine activities, the programme was expanded after organisers received positive feedback from participating youngsters and their parents.

In addition to the 22 activities that were added, the programme also got a boost from four social programmes: Food and Nutrition, Family Recognition Night, Community Service and Rewards.

The Food and Nutrition Programme is designed to expose participants to healthy food preparation practices and advice on healthy life styles. Offered in conjunction with the Health Services Authority (HSA) the programme involves visits to restaurants and information sessions with an HSA nutritionist.

Family Recognition Night aims to pull parents, volunteers and instructors together for a monthly dinner with students.

More than 80 youngsters turned up for the boxing activity offered as part of the Education and Youth Ministries Extended Afterschool Programme.

There, Myles says students will have an opportunity to pay tribute to their parents, instructors, volunteers and community. Equally, parents will have a chance to meet instructors and develop relationships. He notes that all stakeholders will be encouraged to attend this function.

Giving back to the many community partners who’ve made the programme possible is also important. The Community Service Programme is designed to encourage that. Myles explains that students from the various clubs and activities will develop projects and partner monthly for this purpose.

He says, “This will teach our young people that they too have an obligation as citizens to give back to the country in other areas.”

The final programme, Rewards, offers incentives to participants who exhibit perfect attendance, respect and hard work. Students who perform well, and demonstrate positive leadership and commitment to community service will also receive special recognition.

Girls learn to dribble during the basketball activity.

With all that said however, Myles notes that sustaining the programme long-term will require some community support. He says, “This programme has the potential to grow even further, but it requires volunteers to assist instructors, and incentives in the form of gift certificates and funding.

“As such, we’re inviting persons with ideas for additional activities or those wishing to donate gifts to join the programme. Our aim is to ensure that every young person attending secondary school has a choice for afterschool activities. By ensuring that this happens, we will prevent young people from engaging in negative activities.”

Email  [email protected] or call 244-3150 for more information on the programme.

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