A girl in gym class climbs on gymnastic railings.

Starting January 4, students at Alderwood Elementary School can participate in free YMCA before-and-after school programs. The before-and-after school programs are being generously funded by the Whatcom Community Foundation and are a Department of Early Learning licensed program. The before-and-after school programs support families by offering a safe and enriching environment for children, whose parents work or attend school during the hours before school starts and after school is dismissed. The Whatcom Community Foundation offered assistance to the YMCA to help offset some of the expenses in order to make sure that the program remains sustainable at Alderwood.

The before-and-after school program will include homework and literacy time, outside play, group games and healthy snacks for kids who are enrolled. Participation in the program includes a youth membership for use of the YMCA as well.

“Our before-and-after school programs are intended to be a nice mix of structured, unstructured time that supports the child’s physical, cognitive and social-emotional growth and development,” said Melinda Yost, director of family enrichment at the Whatcom Family YMCA.

YMCA morning programs will begin January 4 and run from 7 to 8 a.m. in the morning and from 3 to 6 p.m. in the afternoons on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. On Thursdays, the program will run from 1:15 until 6 p.m.

“My hopes for the program are simple, we want to support families. When we give children a safe place to be after school, working and student parents are free to concentrate on their job and school, so that when they do get time together at home, that time is hopefully less stressful and more beneficial to the family structure,” said Yost. “We want to meet these parents, with the support of the school district, where they are in hopes that we can support the needs of the Alderwood children and families.”

For more information about the YMCA programs, call (360) 676-6404.

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