After school youth programming based in Ponoka and Rimbey has expanded beyond those borders and the demand continues.
BGC Wolf Creek is operated by the Ponoka Youth Centre, and at the beginning of the school year opened up programming at Wolf Creek Public Schools’ École Lacombe Upper Elementary School (ÉLUES) in Lacombe, following a needs assessment in the community.
“The needs assessment is what boosted the timeline of the expansion faster than what we had planned,” said Beth Reitz, BGC Wolf Creek executive director. “Because our relationship with Wolf Creek Public Schools is so strong in Ponoka, it just made sense if it was working so well for the schools here in Ponoka and the district here, why wouldn’t it work equally as well in Lacombe.”
Melissa Tschirren, program coordinator said the start up at ÉLUES went well.
“We started with about eight kiddos, and in December we are averaging about 18,” said Tschirren. “It has been growing like wildfire. It’s a lot of word of mouth; the kids have been telling their friends to come and try it out.”
When the needs assessment was done there was interest from parents whose children attend Terrace Ridge School on the north end of Lacombe, but transportation to ÉLUES for those children posed a challenge. Because of that BGC Wolf Creek approached WCPS about expanding to offer programming at Terrace Ridge School as well.
“We are going to hang in there at Terrace Ridge for a year, because the need is there,” said Reitz, who added that starting programming once the school year had already well begun does impact initial registration. “We need to hit that 15 kid per day mark, and we are about halfway there.”
Tschirren said they currently offer after school programming from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday.
“We usually do crafts or experiments everyday. And then they have free play and then we do some kind of physical activity, gym games, or outside to keep them busy and give them some choice,” she said. “Kids who also want help with their homework; we are able to accommodate that. One girl loves to read, so she comes and reads after school.”
Having been established in Ponoka for 20 years, Reitz said the close partnership with Wolf Creek Public Schools, which includes being located in a former Wolf Creek school in Ponoka, is a big reason for the group’s success.
“Our program would not be what it is without this building. When I started we were in three different buildings across town and it was never effective. This location has completely made it what it is. We 100 per cent believe the success in what we are doing is greatly due to our relationship with Wolf Creek,” said Reitz.
“I have the opportunity to see other BGC clubs across Canada and I can say that our relationship with Wolf Creek Public Schools is unique and not all BGC Clubs are as fortunate as we are to have a school division that believes as strongly in what we do as ours.
“For us, people look at our connection with Wolf Creek and are dumbfounded by it and it’s unusual for clubs like this. I give that credit to the leadership at Wolf Creek Public Schools, they have always looked at it as what can we do to make this the best it can be.”
To learn more about after school youth programming offered in Ponoka, Rimbey and Lacombe visit BGC Wolf Creek on Facebook, Ponoka Youth Centre on Facebook, or on the websites at: bgc.wolfcreek.com or lacombe.bgcwolfcreek.com.
- Submitted by Wolf Creek Public Schools