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B.A.M. - A sustainable after-school program

Posted: June 1, 2013 - 4:00pm  |  Updated: June 2, 2013 - 12:12am

After a full year of implementation, “Body and Mind,” the new after-school activities program, is working with middle school students to help them remain active and out of trouble while providing a model for sustainable community programs.

“The reason that we’re doing this isn’t just so kids can have fun,” said Kevin Ritchie, a member of Juneau After School Coalition. “It helps keep kids out of trouble and helps them develop the skills to get them through high school.”

It answers a common problem for parents: what to do with the time when their kid is home and they aren’t back from work for a few more hours.

“Research shows is the most dangerous time of day,” Ritchie said. It’s a time when children are three times more likely to get involved with drugs, alcohol or other illicit behaviors, according to Ritchie.

Of the students who answered questions on the Association of Alaska School Board 2012 School Climate and Connectedness Survey, 50 percent of respondents at Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School said they were with an adult after school only 1-2 times a week or never.

Similarly, 57 percent of respondents at Floyd Dryden Middle School said they were with an adult after school only 1-2 times a week if ever.

The survey also found that sometimes students weren’t made aware of possible after-school opportunities, or that they simply cost too much.

“Our strategy is to survey kids and teachers to find out what they need, then ask community organizations to provide activities,” said the program’s only employee and JASC program coordinator Betsy Brenneman. “What makes this program work so well is the active partnership between the schools and the greater Juneau community which cares so much about its kids.”

Nearly one of every three students who wouldn’t normally participate in after-school programs signed up for such activities as archery, cooking, a junior police academy or babysitter training, to name a few, as part of the B.A.M. program.

B.A.M. continues to receive support from a litany of local organizations such as the local Rotary Clubs, CBJ and the Juneau School District, with several who offer volunteers to lead activities.

This week, the Assembly Finance Committee approved $50,0000 — about half of what it takes to operate B.A.M. — to fund the JASC program. The full Assembly will render a decision Monday.

For an after-school activity such as B.A.M, the JASC is aiming to approach a nationwide program with a simple, sustainable program.

“The big problem nationally is how to sustain it,” Ritchie said. “Instead of having a really expensive program, we’ve been able to do it sustainably.”

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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