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updated: 8/14/2014 10:42 AM

YMCA after-school programs provide enrichment activities

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Submitted by Dave Burisek

Providing youth with opportunities to continue to learn and engage in meaningful activities at the end of the school day can boost their academic success.

To help motivate and inspire kids to learn, the Taylor Family YMCA in Elgin is offering its Before and After School Achievement Academy Program to school-aged children now at Lily Lake Grade School and Howard B. Thomas Grade School, as well as its After School Achievement Academy at Gilberts Elementary School.

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The Y's Achievement Academy program combines academics with play and offers a caring and safe environment for youth who would otherwise be left unsupervised.

During the school year, 15.1 million U.S. children are left unsupervised after 3 p.m., according to the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness advocacy organization. In Illinois, 28 percent of children are left alone and responsible for taking care of themselves.

With the start of the new school year, the Taylor Family YMCA encourages parents/caregivers to make sure that children are involved in safe, educational experiences after school.

"The combination of enrichment and extended learning opportunities is essential to increasing children's success in school," said Chris Guihan, School Age Childcare coordinator, Taylor Family YMCA.

"YMCA Achievement Academy programs promote a love for learning, social and emotional development, healthy choices, character and creativity, and provide children with an extra support system through positive role models to help them achieve and reach their full potential."

Studies show participation in after-school programs helps boost school attendance and academic performance and reduces gaps in academic achievement among children from disadvantaged households.

More than just baby-sitting, the Taylor Family YMCA's Achievement Academy programs have a curriculum that includes homework assistance, health, science, math, reading, and, most important, fun.

Children are able to engage in active games and free play both in the gym and outside on the playgrounds. All children will be encouraged to be active for 60 minutes per day. As a result, we hope to develop children who can make positive lifestyle choices, who are more active, and who can bring a contagious love of health and wellness back to their families.

For more information about the Taylor Family YMCA's after-school program, contact Chris Guihan at cguihan@elginymca.org or visit www.taylorymca.org.

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