Benefits of summer programs for children
One of the many ways in which family life has changed in Northwest Ohio over the past 25 years is the advent and growth of Afterschool programs.
For working parents, Afterschool can be a real godsend, keeping their children safe and constructively engaged during a time of day when parents would otherwise have good reason to worry about what their children were doing. Just as important, Afterschool programs put children’s time to good use, with homework assistance, as well as, exercise, nutritious snacks, enrichment activities, and time with friends.
But what do kids do in the summer when schools are closed and there are extra hours in the day with nothing to do? In many cases, where funding and circumstances permit, Afterschool programs morph into summer programs and go right on keeping kids safe, inspiring them to learn and develop new skills, while sparing working parents worries about their children’s whereabouts and safety.
Summer programs can give children a chance to develop their imagination through play, motivate them to make new friends, and help them develop new skills and talents.
That’s exactly why the YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo offers day camps, school-age child care programs, resident camp, three traveling “Fun Busses” reaching children in rural communities and the central city, and youth development programs.
We will reach over 5000 children in northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan this summer. Children and youth ages 5 – 18 have opportunities to participate in outdoor adventure, field trips, skill development, social development, play, making new friends, and in many locations, receive nutritious meals and snacks.
According to studies, such activities have benefits beyond being fun. For example, by providing opportunities for exercise, and serving nutritious snacks and meals, summer programs help combat the obesity problem now reaching epidemic proportions among American youth.
Programs’ snacks and meals can also play a critical, yet underappreciated role, in the lives of children from low-income homes. In 2006, some 7.7 million children were eligible for free or reduced-price breakfast at school, and 16.1 million ate free or reduced-price lunch.
During the summer, those children’s economic circumstances don’t change, but because school is out, they lose what may be their best shot at a healthy meal every day. Participating summer programs are an important way to ensure that low-income children get at least one healthy meal five days a week, giving them access to federally-supported feeding programs during the summer months.
It is for these reasons—social development, keeping kids safe, helping working families, creating opportunities for exercise and good nutrition—that afterschool turned summer programs are such an important service to the community. It is also why they are such a sound investment, even in these difficult economic times.
For more information about summer programs, contact the YMCA/JCC Child Development Department at 419-474-3995 or visit the Web site at: www.ymcatoledo.org
VP of Child Development
YMCA/JCC of Greater Toledo