After-School Care – Ridge Elementary
Written by Sarah Crouse
We do big things here at the Y.
Our pools are over flowing with children learning to swim,
Our sports fields host thousands of players every season,
I love to see the big picture of what we are doing in our communities,
But I’d like to zoom in,
And instead of celebrating our big stories, it’s still important to highlight the small ones that make all our success possible.
We have about 2,000 children enrolled in our after school programs.
Today I want to talk to you about 9.
Nine students from our Ridge Elementary After School Program.
I am a firm believer that great things can come from small packages, for obvious reasons.
And after visiting the Ridge program, this statement could not be more powerful.
Because within this small community, are genuine and welcoming children that can’t wait to have you join them for snack time where the conversation jar is full of quirky questions that each child answers and everyone patiently listens and engages with each other. Or to share with you their job for the day. On their rotating chore wheel that makes sure that everyone has individual impact on the site.
But these programmatic elements are specific and hard to recreate at larger programs, but that’s not all that makes this site unique and special
The relationships these students have are exactly what we are looking for in an after school success story. Emmanuella is a 3rd grader who immigrated from Portugal and speaks no English, but was immediately accepted into the group. A 5th grader named Leslie – Ridge’s only pursuit member- spends her time translating in Spanish and the two girls celebrate every word that happens to overlap their two languages.
Aiden is another Ridge student with special needs who spent the beginning of the school year struggling to follow any directions. That is until counselor Mr. Matt became his friend. Aiden loves to challenge him to see who can pick up all the Legos the fastest or be first in line. Or of course, talk about Pokémon When Mr. Matt was spotlighted on the Family Board, Aiden said “Mr. Matt makes me feel good about myself.”
I know this school age site will never raise the most in a food drive, or provide tons of measurement data – but this small close knit community is completely molded by the hands and minds of the students.
And the weaknesses that small programs often have are no where to be seen at Ridge.
Never is there an older child that refuses to play a game because it’s too “baby-ish”, instead the older students tend to lead activities, make sure everyone gets a turn, or read to younger students who don’t have homework.
Instead of boys and girls fighting with each other over the attention of staff or complaining that they are the only member of their grade- there’s a family atmosphere that says- no matter who you are, we listen when you speak -and we share with everyone.
Winnie the Pooh says “sometimes the smallest things can take up the most room in your heart.”
And that’s why this small site has managed to take hold of all our values.
And small as it may be, the students still beg their parents to pick them up a little later,
And let them stay a little longer
Jackson, William, Zharia, Emanuella, Chad, Savannah, Nathaniel, Leslie, Aiden
This little place makes a big impact in their lives, and mine.