After School and Summer Programs Encourage Leadership Growth
Six-year-old Jordan1 found it hard to sit outside while his older siblings went to Scott Mission’s After School program in his neighbourhood school. “I would always try to sneak in…” he confesses, before letting us know he began going to the programs himself in Grade Two. “That was the youngest you could go!”
Now 15, Jordan looks back on his years of programming with Scott Mission’s Youth Department with fondness, recognizing he developed relationships with staff and peers that have helped him grow. “I’ve known some of the staff my whole life. If I need advice, I can always ask them. They are like Elders in my life.” Jordan participated in Scott Mission’s After School clubs, joining weekly for games, Bible Study, snacks, and fun. He also took part in for summer programs in his neighbourhood and attended our overnight camp in Caledon.
These programs are designed to teach teamwork, provide mentorship, an understanding of God’s love, and leadership skills. Over many years, the programs have gained the trust of school administrators, teachers, and other youth leaders, often receiving new youth participants after a referral. The staff are eager to see participants succeed at programs, and in life.
After-school and extra-curricular programs have been proven to provide wide ranging effects for the individual child, as well as for families and the broader community.
Programs provide a layer of stability for youth, with lower drop-out rates and better performance in school for participants. Emotional and physical benefits like increased self-confidence and physical activity are also experienced. Neighbourhoods with access to after school programs also see a decrease in youth crime.2
Gabbie, one of the staff leaders, has personally witnessed the impact that extra-curricular programming can have on a young person’s life. She grew up going to Scott Mission Camp and came through its’ Leadership Training Program, “Foundations,” before becoming staff herself. She now helps run the City Program’s Youth Scholarship where five youth are brought on to help lead programs, participate in mentorship, both with younger kids and receiving from staff, and are challenged to grow in their leadership capabilities.
The participants are chosen after applying and an interview process. “The goal is to train them up as leaders, to work on their personal goals, as well as be someone who could lead our programs as staff in the future. The participants chosen all have a heart for serving each other and serving the community,” explained Gabbie.
Jordan has been accepted to this program and is thankful for all that it will do for him including getting to “spend the summer outside, keep busy all summer, receive community service hours for high school, and receive a $1000 scholarship.”
Gabbie shared her thoughts on the value of the Scholarship Program, “[The value for these students] is they get to work on leadership and personal goals. One of the participants this year was really good at bringing ideas together and conveying it well to the kids – an ideal teacher! This wasn’t a skill he or we knew at the beginning of the summer. He wasn’t initially confident in it, but now he’s excited about it and wants to look for more opportunities in the future.”
Being there for youth, encouraging them to pursue their gifts, and walking with them through the struggles they face is all part of the job for Scott’s City Program workers. “Sometimes just doing life with kids is what they need most,” reflected Gabbie.
This next year is a big one for Jordan. He was recently accepted at an exclusive private school after being recommended by Scott Mission staff. It will be a new experience and he’s excited about the opportunity, but also has his eyes set further in the future. “Next summer I want to do the Camp Leadership program, Foundations.”
Helping youth reach their potential is what our City Programs are all about. Please join us in praying for the Youth participating this year. Your donation support for the Youth Program would support summer and year-round programs truly making a difference in the lives of children and youth. You can support here: scottmission.com/donate.
1 Name changed to protect privacy.
2 “An Opportunity for Every Child”