January 11, 2013
Thanks to the generosity of The Belk Foundation and Birmingham City Schools, the YWCA After-School Enrichment Program (ASEP) can now offer quality after-school programs to an increased number of children. With the recent additions to funding, program participation has grown by thirty percent and this is only the beginning! It has also allowed our staff to expand the range of services that will be offered to include spring break and summer enrichment programs. All activities are provided to program participants free of charge with all supplies being provided by the support of our charitable donors, United Way and the YWCA.
ASEP services are extended to the children of homeless families living with First Light, Jessie’s Place, Salvation Army, Pathways, Birmingham Hospitality Network and residents of YW housing including Interfaith Hospitality House.
The need for a program of this nature is great because the children are at a higher risk due to the transient nature of their families. The after-school program gives these children the extra attention and support they need during the school year. This is done through the use of tutors and academic enrichment activities. The YW works as a liaison between parents, shelters, and counselors to ensure that the children's academic and emotional needs are being met.
Staff members assist students with homework and projects, monitor progress reports and report cards and conduct assessments to determine each individual child’s educational needs. UAB education students are also trained to offer tutoring to ASEP participants.
“The specialized attention given to each child builds self confidence and instills in them the mindset that they can do something great,” stated Marianna Pardo, ASEP Coordinator. This has never been more evident than in one fifth grade ASEP student who was so excited that he received an A on his social studies project, he now skips playing basketball in the gym so that he can work on his science project. “Any time you can get a middle school student excited about turning in quality homework, it’s a major accomplishment,” said Delyne Hicks, Senior Director of Child Care Services.
The ASEP library provides books for school-age children. Each child has a book box filled with titles that they have chosen based on their interests and reading level. The ASEP library also provides the required reading books for children in the program as very few of the children that the YW serves have individual access to the books needed for school.
“Although we have a very structured program, we work very hard to keep the children engaged by presenting these materials in an exciting way,” said Hicks. “In addition to learning, we want the children to have fun,” Hicks added.
With the assistance of our partners, students are given healthy snack options such as: cheese, wheat crackers, yogurt, granola bars and fruit; all of which have been approved by the USDA. On Fridays, they are also provided a bag of snacks to take with them for the weekend.
We would like to extend a special thank you to our friends at The Belk Foundation and Birmingham Board of Education for their dedication to the unique children whom we serve. To learn more about the ASEP program, or if you are interested in donating to the YWCA, please click here.