Y Kids Club more than just before/after-school support

There are only 24 hours in a day, and a little less than half of those will usually be spent at work.  Add in another two for breakfast, a brief lunch at your desk and dinner, and you’ll quickly find yourself in bed setting the alarm for the next day.  Lest we forget the kids’ schedule, its unlikeliness to coincide with your own turning a streamlined and coordinated day the stuff of legends.  For those with toddlers, daycare tends to be the obvious choice.  But what happens when your 10-year-old’s classes start an hour after you get to work, only for the bell to ring while you’re still sat at your desk battling that 4p.m. slump?

The YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region in Ottawa has a different take on helping parents coordinate conflicting schedules.  Rather than impose set time windows twice daily, parents are free to choose drop-off and pick-up times that work best for them, so scheduling yoga classes after work or an impromptu date night won’t be an issue.  Parents are able to meet with Y staff to discuss their children’s needs and emergency contact information, before being introduced to their child’s supervisor when the school term starts.  The service is priced at $205/month, with financial assistance available if needed.

Children grades 1 through 6 are eligible to attend the Y Kids Club, with friendly staff offering a safe and reassuring environment for kids to socialize with peers, catch up on homework with support from staff, or engage in fun, teamwork-based activities. 

Setting the Y Kids Club program apart from others of its kind, the offer incorporates the CATCH Kids Club (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program, which seeks to promote physical activity and a healthy lifestyle in a format that won’t resemble your child’s average health class.  Children engage in inclusive, non-competitive games that progressively raise their heart rate and keep them active for at least a half hour, and learn about the nutritional value behind everyday foods through engaging science experiments and other group projects.

“Over half the program time is used for physical activity.  We don’t focus on games where children are eliminated because the goal is for them to be physically active, to have fun, and build up their physical literacy skills so they want to participate,” said Liz McGrath, Y Kids Club Coordinator.

Designed so participants aren’t immediately aware of the educational aspect, the program has seen success in several research trials, noting that students who participated in the program consumed less fat and were more physically active outside of school compared to those who hadn’t taken the program.  Moreover, these effects were shown to last long after students stopped participating in the program. 

Other than developing physical literacy, Y Kids Club encourages cooperative games through the “Play it Fair” program developed by Equitas.  With more than 60 activities offered, kids learn about human rights and values such as respect for diversity, fairness, inclusion, responsibility, and acceptance.

Morning reading clubs are currently in the works, and are expected to be offered at all YMCA-YWCA locations as of November 1, to be priced at $175/month.

While other programs across the capital might have similar offerings, Y Kids Club sets itself apart by remaining committed to the organization’s values and offering a well-rounded approach to child care, all the while remaining flexible for both parents and their children’s individual needs.

“Y Kids Club is special because we have staff that believe in caring, honesty, respect and responsibility,” said McGrath.

To find out more about Y Kids Club, visit the YMCA/YWCA’s website at http://www.ymcaywca.ca.