LONGMEADOW – The Greenwood Children’s Center celebrated its 25th anniversary of its after school program for local youth on April 16 with an event that included the presentation of a special citation by state Rep. Brian Ashe.
Kelly Zieba, director of school age services at the Greenwood Children’s Center, told Reminder Publications that 25 years ago there were no after school care programs for school age children in the town.
The program began with about 10 to 15 children, she noted. The Children’s Center currently serves more than 52 children.
“When the economy was better we did have about 100 kids coming,” she added. “That was back in the early 2000s and then when the recession hit we saw a drop. Now we have more competitors in the area also, but we’re still thriving and very proud to be a community asset for this long.”
Zieba said the Greenwood Children’s Center is a “choice based program,” which includes activity selections in areas such as the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) lab, an arts room, a multi-use gymnasium for sports, as well as special interest clubs that focus on topic such as knitting and cooking.
An after school room is also available for children to play, which features Lego bricks, board games, and a reading center, she noted.
“[We host] different things throughout the year to peak their interest,” she added.
The Children’s Center has also seen recent improvements to its programs, Zieba said. PeoplesBank donated funds for the STEM lab, which has Wi-Fi access and a total of 18 laptop computers.
Youth in elementary school also utilize educational programs such as Lexia, used for reading, and IXL, for mathematics, at least 15 minutes per day, she noted.
Zieba said she hopes parents who attended Greenwood when they were children would enroll their own children into programs in the future. She also noted that some of the Greenwood Children Center staff attended programs when they were children.
“We would hope that when they have children, they would bring them here so they can experience the same home away from home that they did,” she added.
Zieba said the center also follows a curriculum policy called Change in Action, which was started by two women in Longmeadow. The organization focuses on anti bullying and building a kind community.
Grade 4 and 5 children are the “ambassadors” of the program and are involved with a variety of Change in Action programs for younger children, she added.
“They do different Change in Action activities with [K-3] children each month so that they can build on their respect and kindness for one another,” Zieba said.
For more information about the Greenwood Children’s Center visit www.lprd.net/greenwood-children-s-center.