Hanover YWCA after-school program seeks home
Feb 10, 2013 (The Evening Sun - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
They have the participants lined up, a program in place and student interest. But community leaders looking to establish a youth center in Hanover lack one essential component -- a centrally located building to house the center.
Organizers for the local children's advocacy group Youth Network Resource Center have begun exploring potential sites for the center, which would house an expanded version of the YWCA of Hanover's C.O.S.M.I.C. After School Program. The goal, they say, is to provide area children with support in academics, life skills and personal growth.
"Not only do we want to carry that program to the youth center, we want to open it up to the entire community of children," said Mirna Wildasin, who co-chairs the Youth
Network Resource Center, established last year as a task force.
The YWCA's program is offered at Hanover's elementary schools and the middle school and was recently expanded to Spring Grove Area Middle School. The YWCA has 150 children participating at Hanover Street, Clearview and Washington elementaries and 82 at the middle school.
The program focuses on academics, with activities geared toward math, science and reading, and health and anti-bullying presentations. It also includes a culture club that meets on Saturday morning for programs and field trips.
"We have the program; we need to have the location," Wildasin said. "The key is where do we get a building for these kids and how do we sustain that building. We don't want
to open the center and not be able to maintain it financially."
"We're engaging some local realtors, keeping an eye out," said Martha King, who co-chairs the network. "It's a slow process. Right now, we're in the embryonic stage."
Wildasin, who heads the YWCA's Hispanic American Center, and King, who founded Guiding Hearts with Hope, have been pulling together leaders from area churches and children's services, and other professionals to join the resource network. The group has been meeting monthly to work on the project and even surveyed area students last year to gauge support for a center.
More than 1,000 area students responded, offering an overwhelming yes to a youth center.
Wildasin, King and other network leaders also have been meeting lately with local organizations to update them on their progress and drum up support.
Last week, Wildasin spoke with members of the Kiwanis Club of Hanover and talked about providing computer labs, an exercise area, classroom space and areas for dance and music presentations.
"There are so many things we can do," Wildasin said. "There are so many good things we want to plan for the kids."
The YWCA's program, funded with a federal grant administered through the state
Department of Education, has worked well at reaching at-risk children, Wildasin said.
"We pull a lot of kids that aren't participating in the community. They are not going to the library or playing sports," she said. The free program also benefits parents struggling to make ends meet, she said.
Wildasin said the network hopes to strengthen the middle-school portion of the program and expand it to include high-school students.
A center, with diverse activities, would help maintain the participation as children get older, Wildasin said.
"At the middle-school level we are losing their interest," she said. "It's a challenge to keep them focused after being there (at school) for six hours. We're trying to make the programs as fun as we can."
Tammy Cottrill, of the Kiwanis, said the youth center project could be something her organization supports.
The Kiwanis backs several local projects for children, including donating books to Guthrie Memorial Library, providing scholarship money and assisting local families over the Christmas holidays.
"We do a lot of things for the children and we're wanting to do more," Cottrill said. "We're always trying to think of new things to do with the kids."
The youth center would be operated through the YWCA of Hanover, Wildasin said.
The network is doing the legwork, hoping to build support and establish some financial backing for the building.
"We're looking for supportive ideas," Wildasin said. "Maybe there
is someone who owns a building that would say this could be a building for the kids.
"We're at the beginning stages of finding out what the costs are going to be," she said.
Providing young people with healthy activities such as art, music, cooking, exercise and drug/alcohol/tobacco prevention programs has long-lasting benefits, Wildasin points out.
"We want to make a difference with theses kids," she said.
___ (c)2013 The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pa.) Visit The Evening Sun (Hanover, Pa.)
at www.eveningsun.com Distributed by MCT Information Services
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]