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|YMCA receives grant for after-school program|
The YMCA of Northeast Louisiana has been awarded a $10,200 grant from the JC Penny After-school Fund to give local children an opportunity to participate in after-school activities.
Chris Pealer, executive director of the YMCA of Northeast Louisiana, said the organization expects to give out about 70 scholarships to area youth. Scholarships are typically awarded around the first of September.
The local YMCA was one of 340 YMCAs around the United States that received the grant funding. JC Penny After-school Fund gave $3.5 million to the YMCAs to help more families whose children are not currently participating in after-school programs.
"We feel very lucky to get this money because it helps provide scholarships for kids who need them," Pealer said. "These scholarships make the after-school programs very affordable for these families so they can have their children in a safe place after school."
YMCA of Northeast Louisiana has 10 after-school locations within Ouachita Parish. Most are located at elementary schools, while some are held at recreational facilities and churches.
Children who participate in the YMCA's after-school activities meet with YMCA staff to participate in a number of activities. These include assistance with homework, arts and craft projects, music, games and snacks.
Scholarships for the after-school program are awarded to families based on financial status.
"Scholarships are awarded by need," Pealer said. "The family fills out the application and we compare it with all the others. The money we received from this grant will help us give out more scholarships. It really fits in to our mission to provide services and programs to help families and keep them strong. We cater to working families and single-parent families who need this (after-school) assistance most of all."
In Ouachita Parish, the YMCA serves more than 400 children each day at its 10 after-school sites.
The after-school program promotes health and well-being, social skill development, emotional development, artistry, character development, sports and service, Pealer said.
On Saturday, the YMCA will host a back-to-school party for area children of all ages. The event will be held from 9 a.m. to noon at the former McGuire Methodist Church in West Monroe. The facility is located at the corner of Arkansas Road and North 12 St. Refreshments, activities and prizes will be offered.
Other attractions include a Smoothie King booth, West Monroe Police Department K-9 unit, fire truck, carnival games and Frisbee golf.