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Empowering Kids for a Brighter Future

August 10, 2021

The period of time between 3pm to 6pm is an extremely valuable part of a child’s day. It’s a time to play, connect and complete homework. That’s why United Way provides children with access to after-school programs that give them opportunities to learn and thrive. 

Amnay and Adam love attending SPARK, a United Way-supported after-school program. They have been attending since 2019 and according to their mom, Rosalind, the program has become a significant part of their lives

“The SPARK program has had a very positive impact on my two boys,” said Rosalind. “Being a part of the program has provided them with many different opportunities.”

SPARK is a free after-school program in Leamington that provides a safe and supportive environment for children in grades one through eight. The program combines planned learning and recreational activities to help children build new skills and prepare them for the future. Each programming day consists of a nutritious snack, homework help, structured learning and recreation activities such as robotics, coding, art, music, sports and indoor games. 

“One of my boys’ favourite parts of the after-school program is the sports. At the end of the day, they would excitedly hop into the car when I picked them up and start telling me about what they did. They had just started a new school and attending the SPARK program helped them to make new friends and feel more at ease.”

When in-person programming was cancelled during the summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rosalind was grateful that SPARK continued to support her children with special package drop-offs twice a week that included planned activities, snacks, and backpacks from United Way’s Backpacks for Success program.

“Having these packages delivered by the staff with whom the boys had developed positive relationships was a highlight of their week. At the end of the summer, the staff showed up at our house with backpacks filled with school supplies for the upcoming school year. It really made Amnay and Adam feel special after being isolated for so many months.”

In the Fall of 2020, SPARK shifted its programming online to continue to support kids during the pandemic. They held virtual Zoom meetings, often encouraging family participation in activities, and offer homework support to students.

“It was a challenge to juggle my job with helping the boys with their homework and virtual learning. The homework support offered by SPARK staff was very helpful and a relief for both myself and my sons.”

The SPARK program offers additional family supports that include virtual community dinners, workshops and discussion groups that help parents learn about other beneficial community support services. 

“Through their participation in the SPARK program, the boys were able to gain positive social skills, creativity, character development, and responsibility. The staff’s genuine interest and thoughtfulness towards Amnay and Adam has been touching for me to see. I am very grateful that they have been a part of this program, and I am looking forward to them hopefully being able to participate in person again someday soon.”

Quality after-school programs like SPARK do more than just provide children with a safe place to go. Children can connect with other kids and adults, experience new opportunities and overcome barriers. When those barriers are removed, they can build positive relationships with peers and develop confidence and skills for a successful future.

Your gift makes it possible for kids like Amnay and Adam to stay connected to after-school programs that equip them with the resources and support they need to unlock their potential in school and in life. 

The SPARK After-School Program is a United Way-funded program that is delivered by the South Essex Community Council.

Show Your Local Love

Last updated on April 1, 2022

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