ECMS-G AND GARDENA-CARSON FAMILY YMCA AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM SURPASSES ALL EXPECTATIONS
No one imagined such an overwhelming response when Environmental Charter Middle School – Gardena (ECMS-G) and the Gardena-Carson Family YMCA decided to team up for a unique, after-school enrichment program. Enrollment has been full since it kicked off at the start of this school year – and more than 150 students are wait-listed to get into the program.
“Last year, the administrators explored several off-site locations and were very impressed with the Gardena-Carson Family YMCA facility and programs as well as the staff’s enthusiasm and sincere passion for youth development,” noted Ginnia Higgins, ECMS-G’s after-school coordinator and games instructor.
The program is offered from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. every school day. One group of students makes up a basketball team that trains with the staff to compete in a YMCA youth basketball league. The remaining students are divided into two groups that participate in basketball, cycling, soccer, swimming, volleyball and Zumba, as well as work outs with exercise equipment and weights – rotating activities every two weeks.
“Response to the program, which is funded through an after-school program grant, has been incredible,” said ECS Founder and Executive Director Alison Suffet-Diaz. “Enrollment filled up quickly, leaving us with a long waiting list of students who want to participate.”
“We are always looking for ways to help our local schools and positively impact our community,” noted Audrie Echnoz, executive director of the Gardena-Carson Family YMCA. “This partnership aligns perfectly with our vision to build strong kids, strong families and strong communities.
“Moreover, our emphasis on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility along with the four core values we integrate into everything we do – Honesty, Caring, Respect and Responsibility – are consistent with Environmental Charter Schools’ values. It’s a great collaboration – and the students are loving it,” Ms. Echnoz added.
“The only drawback is that we have to bus our students there, which limits program enrollment to the 50 seats on the bus,” Ms. Higgins said, adding that students in all grade levels participate. “We will rotate students through the program each trimester so that everyone who wants to participate can.”
For the administrators, staff, teachers and parents, this partnership demonstrates the positive results that are possible when like-minded people work together toward a common positive purpose. For the students, it’s just cool!