“It’s very important to have structured hours after hours,” Jerry Jones, Martin Luther King Community Center’s executive director said. “Because that’s the time that kids mostly get in trouble. But also what we’re seeing is that this is an opportunity for our kids not to isolate themselves.”
Jones oversees a free after school program that serves kids from nine schools in Rock Island’s district.
Kids who go to the Martin Luther King Community Center get help with homework, are treated to healthy food, can participate in activities to learn and have fun, and are given “curriculum for life skills.”
“What that essentially is, is trying to teach them the criteria to make good decisions that are healthy for the short term, and the long term,” Jones said.
“Because we all know, when we’re kids, we need a lot of guidance in those areas.”
While kids of all ages are helped by having after school activities, teens especially need the help.
“We all know that teens who don’t have anything to do after school tend to make whatever fun they can,” Liz Zimmerman Waldman of the Boys & Girls Club of Mississippi Valley said. “A lot of kids don’t always have the skills or the opportunities to do something that’s positive.”
Waldman says that she didn’t have anywhere to go after school, so to be able to help give this opportunity to teens, is very special to her.
“We pick kids up from school, we provide them meals and snacks, we provide all the support they need,” Waldman said.
The Boys & Girls Club program costs only $30 for the entire school year. Waldman says while there’s not always room in the kid’s program, the teen program almost always has room.