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After School Program keeping kids healthy and busy

By Ken Johnston

What is there for kids to do after school in Rainy River? Well for 20 of them there is the After School Program at Riverview School.
Rainy River Playschool Inc. received a grant from the Ministry of Health to run the program for one year. The program is run in partnership with the Northwestern Health Unit and the Rainy River Recreation Board, all of which have input into it.
The program began Sept. 10th and runs Tues. to Thurs. from 3:15-5:30 p.m. following the school calendar until June.
It is open to kids between the ages of 6 and 12, but is currently at full capacity of 20. Hailey Coleman, who works at the After School Program said, “From 3:15 to 4 p.m. we offer a healthy snack, based on the Canada Food Guide.” Kids then do crafts or homework before they get to participate in an hour of physical activity.
“We try to do something new with them every day,” explained Coleman. “If they like an activity we sometimes do it again!”
Rec. Board employee, Justin Wagner, was putting on after school basketball and needed numbers. So the kids from the After School Program took advantage of his offerings.
Nikki Blakeney, also with the After School Program, said, “The kids also do field trips, including one with Wagner that featured a bird walk!”
Coleman said that the kids are also engaged to offer suggestions about “their own program.”
“We talked the other day about doing a family night and doing a dinner program at Christmas,” said Blakeney.
The funding for the program is based on need in rural communities. “The numbers are good here and we even have a waiting list of four or five,” said Coleman.
Kids are encouraged to interact with each other. “Kids that are shy are now coming out of their shell, making new friends and are encouraged to try new healthy foods. We ask them to try (a new food) at least once!”
Both Blakeney and Coleman feel the program is very positive for the community and are enjoying running it.