A simple T-shirt represents a whole new beginning for Laura (not her real name), a once shy, withdrawn ten-year old girl. Her “Proud to be tobacco-free” shirt was the winning design in a contest run by her after-school program.
Showcased at The Boys and Girls of Durham Club, her T-shirt design went on to be featured everywhere. It was promoted at the club’s annual meeting and proudly displayed in Laura’s home – a symbol of her achievement. As a participant in the club’s after-school program, Laura has blossomed into a happier, more confident and social girl.
Laura is reaping the rewards of an after-school program that serves several schools in Oshawa. For almost 50 years, it has kept kids busy, physically active and out of trouble. Five days-a-week, the program offers diverse activities including homework help, literacy instruction, athletics, mentoring, nutrition, and music. RBC has been a proud supporter of the program since 2008.
After school is a high time for trouble among children who are unsupervised. They can be exposed to a lot of negative influences. Add to that work pressures, the challenge to fit in homework and other commitments, and the risks for kids are high. “People are struggling all over, trying to juggle jobs, kids and other family difficulties,” says executive director Lisa McNee Baker. “Kids would probably be at home alone, in front of the TV or computer if they weren’t here.”
At a time when childhood obesity is at crisis levels, the program also fosters positive attitudes towards healthy eating. “Before my daughter wouldn’t eat vegetables at all,” says one parent, “But then, I’m finding out, she’d be at her friends and will eat celery and Cheese Whiz!”
Another surprised parent adds, “I don’t buy mangos. I don’t like mangos. I never thought my kids would like mangos. Well, lo and behold, one night there were mangos at The Boys and Girls Club and my son just wouldn’t step aside from the tray!”
Studies show that over 90% of Club alumni agree their involvement with the program made them stronger. Ninety-five percent say they’ve gained valuable life and leadership skills.
RBC believes that learning shouldn’t have to end when the school bell rings. That’s why we created the RBC After-School Grants Program which extends learning beyond the school day. To date, we have donated more than $25 million to organizations that provide children with a safe place to go after school, where they can develop knowledge, social skills and self-esteem.