Eight-year-old "Michael" is a student in the After-School Program at The Campbell Street Community Center, 600 Campbell St. According to the staff, he "struggles to succeed, but he overcomes."
"Michael used to run away, crying, when he didn't get his way, but he eventually learned how to accept things he didn't like and go with the flow," according to Angela Cicioni, arts and education coordinator at The Center. "I've seen a positive change in him over time. When he is focused and in the right space, he is a kind and compassionate friend to everyone."
"Michael's family realized he needs one-on-one attention to help him control his emotions and learn to relate better with his peers; and that he also needs a healthy environment in which to develop socially," said Rob Mattox, an AmeriCorps worker there. "Our mission is to empower individuals to build better communities. Education and healthy relationships are essential to succeed in this mission and we know this process begins at a young age. With the After-School Program, we have the opportunity to empower kids to excel academically and connect socially."
Volunteers and students involved with The Campbell Street Community Center’s After-School?Program huddle together. The program is funded by the Lycoming County United Way.
Michael's family enrolled him in 2009 at The Center, where his therapeutic support assistant, along with other adults, have the opportunity to interact with him, play games with him, prepare and eat dinner together, and help him academically.
"The after-school environment and special attention Michael receives make a noticeable difference in his life," explained Rob. "He made friends quickly and he makes a great effort to learn with the other kids."
The After-School Program is held from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m Monday through Thursday at The Center.
"The special attention every child receives at The Center is another source of hope that empowers these young individuals to reach their potential, to see the positive in every situation, and to overcome obstacles in their way," added Rob. "They know they can succeed because The Center is there for them. Our doors are open and our volunteers are consistent. Michael's success, along with the success of many others, is our reward."
To receive United Way funding, programs must provide measureable results according to Rosann Pelleschi, director of funds distribution and community building for Lycoming County United Way.
"Seventy at-risk youth ages 5 to 18 participated in 28,000 hours of academic improvement programs last year and 75 percent of them improved their academic competencies and advanced to the next grade level when they participated in programs at The Center," Pelleschi said. "In addition, the youth in the program demonstrated improved pro-social behavior and civic engagement by participating in 8,400 hours of community service last year."
Through its annual funds distribution process determined by community volunteers, United Way allocated $36,000 for educational programs at The Center this year.
"We are pleased to be able to fund this program at The Center because it makes a real difference in the lives of the children and their families, right here in Lycoming County," said Scott N. Lowery, executive director for local United Way chapter. "These initiatives expose youth to new and creative life experiences while encouraging positive interactions among peers and community members."
"I like going to The Center after school. I have made lots of new friends and we always have fun," Michael said. "The grown ups are really nice and they help me with my homework and play games with me."
For more information on The Center, call 322-5515, or visit www.campbellstreetcenter.org.
For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the campaign that funds programs like these, visit lcuw.org or call 323-9448. Both organizations are on Facebook.