When you enter the Fellowship Hall at the First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown on any given weekday afternoon, chances are you might see a volcano erupting, a play being performed or a community service project under way.
That's because the children at the Kids Count After School Enrichment Program are busy creating, discovering, imagining, serving, and learning. "We are unique because we are a true Enrichment program," said Program Supervisor Michelle Phelps.
Beginning in 2005, it has evolved over the years into what it is today; providing drama, science, community service, art, and homework help in a calm, safe, and cheerful environment where each child knows he or she is valued and respected.
Guest speakers from the community have also been enlisted to enhance these various enrichment activities. Local farmer Tom Tower taught the kids about the science of raising apples and brought in a number of varieties of apples for the children to sample. They were given a chart to make note of their differences and to record their favorites. "We also had a UB graduate student in chemical engineering come in and help the kids construct a working volcano using baking soda and vinegar," said Phelps.
The children recently participated in the community-wide scarecrow competition by designing six scarecrows depicting children in the program and their supervisors.
"Since the program is located in the center of the Village of Youngstown, walking field trips are something the children participate in and eagerly look forward to," said Phelps. "We have utilized the gym at the Red Brick Schoolhouse and we recently took a tour of the Youngstown Volunteer Fire Department, which was a huge hit," she said.
Homework help is a prominent part of the program as well. "We believe that family time after school is very important, so we encourage the children to get their homework done under our supervision," said Phelps, a professional tutor with 15 years experience. "That way, there is no stress at home at the end of the day and the family can simply enjoy being together."
"Really, we are a one-stop facility," she said. "Parents don't have to run around getting their children to tutors or to hands on science programs or art lessons. We have it all right here."
Kids Count is held Monday-Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Bus transportation services are provided from Lewiston-Porter schools, St. Peter's and Stella Niagara.
For more information or to enroll your child, contact Phelps or this author at 745-7067.