THIS CHILD finds plenty to do as participant in the Bath Area Family YMCA's before and after school programs at six sites in the Midcoast region.

THIS CHILD finds plenty to do as participant in the Bath Area Family YMCA’s before and after school programs at six sites in the Midcoast region.

Brooke Wilmuth considers herself fortunate that as a teacher her job gives her the same vacation times as her six year old. Except for those weeks off for summer vacation and the one or two weeks for Christmas and the winter and spring breaks, she and her son are separated by the daily activities of work and school. Brooke is a single parent. Like most single parents, when last August rolled around she had to find some place for her son to be during those important hours between the end of the school day until the parent(s) come home from work. Left on their own, such children very often rely on screens for entertainment.



In fact, according to the Afterschool Alliance, a nonprofit public awareness advocacy organization. One in four U.S. children is left alone at the end of a school day. There is even a term for such children. “I heard the term “latchkey kids” and I did not want my son coming home to an empty house,” Brooke wrote in an email interview with Around the Y. “As a single parent I am very aware of the passage of time. There is some guilt in that, being away from the person you love most in the world all day long.” When Brooke looked into the Y after school program, she was impressed.” I like that they come up with projects and activities for the kids,” Brooke said. “That includes the interest of all the children. I like that they encourage the children of all ages to interact and look out for one another.”

Brooke said that her son, an only child, loves the sense of family fostered by the program.

“Y Care gives him the opportunity to feel part of a larger family,” she noted. “The older children are kind, inclusive, and caring with my little guy. He calls some of the older boys his ‘brothers.’ I like that the staff is kind, imaginative, caring and that they seem to enjoy the time they spend with my child and the other children.

I like that they have time to do homework, and help the kids as needed, which allows me a few extra precious moments outside of the daily grind with my son.”

The Bath Area Family YMCA offers before and afterschool programs to 170 children in six locations: Fisher-Mitchell and Dike- Newell schools in Bath: Georgetown Elementary; West Bath Elementary; Woolwich Central School and Coffin School in Brunswick. Brooke’s son is bussed from the Phippsburg Elementary School to the Fisher-Mitchell site of the afterschool program.

Sabrina Murphy, CEO of the Bath Area Family Y, says that continued learning can have a positive influence on how well youth perform in school, boosting school attendance, academic performance and reducing gaps in academic achievement.

“With the support of nurturing adults,” Murphy says, “youth in afterschool programs cultivate the values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and education achievement.”

For Brooke, the Y Care program has become so much more than just childcare service.

“I think my son has become more confident since being in the program,” Brooke says. “He is a curious, active, impulsive character whose energy sometimes gets him in trouble at school. The students and staff at Y Care focus on his positive traits. They guide him, praise him, and give him positive attention. What more could you ask?”

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