YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Regina Williams said her third grader, Columbus Jones, has changed his behavior since attending the Success After 6 after-school program.
“Columbus has made lots of new friends, and I believe he’s beginning to take on a leadership role,” she said. “He’s always so quiet, so the other kids kind of want to take after him and get the praise that he’s getting.”
Success After 6 is a new initiative from the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, aimed to promote growth, not only academically, but in all areas of a child’s life. The initiative provides tutoring, supplemental programming and after-school support, with goals of improving reading levels and increasing parent involvement and attendance.
The pilot program was introduced at the Youngstown Community School in September, and the agency hopes to expand programming to other area elementary schools if it is successful.
The 100 students in the program range from kindergarten through third grade. They are at-risk students when it comes to either their behavior or learning patterns.
Laura Dooley, the program’s administrator, said the community has noticed a difference in the students in just a few weeks.
“We’ve had teachers attest to us that children have come to their classroom and they behave better now. They don’t have outbursts like they used to,” she said.
From 3 to 6 p.m., students work on learning their colors, reading books and getting help with their homework.
Brenda Scott, coordinator of the Success After 6 program, said the program helps kids get to the next level, and the earlier they get them there, the better.
“Moving forward, it’s going to be a struggle when they get to grades four, five, and six, so if we catch them now, we can get them practicing good study habits. We can get them valuing education more,” she said.
That is with the help of everyone involved in a child’s life.
“Adults, parents, community, if they could make just talk to the kids and show them a little bit of love,” Williams said. “A lot of them aren’t receiving the love and attention that they should be getting so I think it’s us, as a community, that need to get together and give them what they’re not getting.”