Area youth have a place after school

Courtesy photo Children follow an instructor during an activity at the Soo Hill School. The Northern Lights YMCA has two programs for school aged children, the After School Activities Club and the Before and After School Programing. The Catherine Bonifas Civic Center doors are now open to students in fourth to 12 grades during the school year.

ESCANABA — The Catherine Bonifas Civic Center and Northern Lights YMCA are filling the need for after school activities for local youth.

The Escanaba Recreation Department is keeping with its tradition of opening the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center doors to students from fourth to 12 grades, free of charge, during the school year. All activities and facilities are open to the students, free from membership charges or fees, providing a safe place for students after school.

“The program is extremely popular and is needed in the area,” said Escanaba Recreation Director Kim Peterson. “We provide a safe, supervised environment … after school.”

To kick off the fall season, Peterson is having an open house at the center tonight from 2:30 to 6 p.m.

“We will be registering kids and handing out hygiene items and school supplies,” she said.

As in previous years, the center will be supervised by the recreation department staff, who will also provide a snack to registered students.

The center has a game room and gym. The game room has a ping-pong table, air hockey table, pool table, bumper pool, bull’s eye, board games and cards to play with. Activities in the gym include basketball, bean bag toss, Q-Tip hockey, dodgeball, volleyball, soccer, and shuffleboard.

The facility has wi-fi and will have organized events through the school year.

“We are open Monday through Friday, 2:30 to 8 p.m., and Saturdays, noon to 8 p.m. The activities are no cost to the kids, they just must register when they come in,” said Peterson. “(It’s) funded by grants throughout the community and private donations from citizens. I seek all the funds in order to run this program every year.”

For additional information on activities in the civic center please contact the center at 786-3551 or the recreation department at 786-4141.

The Northern Lights YMCA has two programs for school-aged children, the After School Activities Club and the Before and After School Programing.

“We offer before and after school programing at Cameron School in Gladstone, Lemmer, Soo Hill, Webster and the YMCA in Escanaba,” said Northern Lights YMCA Membership-Marketing Director Hadele Peacock.

Adding to the locations this year is the newly acquired Wells school the YMCA purchased from the Escanaba School District earlier this year. Renovations will be finished this fall and it will be renamed the Wells Childcare and Youth Center.

“We do not have a set date yet,” said Northern Lights YMCA School Age Coordinator Andrea Merki. “We are still renovating and are hopeful to be moved over by early October.”

The students enrolled in the After School Activity Club will also move to the Wells building when it is time.

Currently there are 98 school-aged children in the Before and After School program. Children are provided healthy snacks, outdoor and indoor activities, and help with completing any homework.

“We offer homework help if needed, otherwise play games, dance, do crafts, play outside,” said Merki. “We use two curriculums in our program – one, food and fun, and two, CATCH. Both focus on healthy food choices and physical activity.”

Enrollment is limited and there is a charge per child each week. Contact Merki at 789-0202 (amerki@nlymca.com) for eligibility and registration.

The program runs Monday through Friday, 7 to 9 a.m. and 2:30 to 6 p.m.

The YMCA has an After School Activities Club that will offer activities such as flag football, cheerleading, swimming, Nerf night, and sock hops through the season.

For additional information for either program call the Northern Lights YMCA in Escanaba at 789-0005.