Thursday won't be the first day just for area schools. It will also mark the first day for Rising Stars, a new after-school program at the Shawnee Park Center in south Cape Girardeau.
Rising Stars is a collaboration of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau, the city Parks and Recreation Department and the staff of the Family Resource Center, which over the summer closed its doors on South Sprigg Street after 14 years.
Children in kindergarten through eighth grade are eligible to participate in the program, which runs from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. Participation is free and will include transportation from school, a healthy snack each day and a hot meal on Fridays provided by the Boys and Girls Club.
"That's something we were never able to do alone," said Pat King, former interim director of the resource center.
Teresa Teague, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Cape Girardeau, said the activities that will be offered are similar to ones held at the Family Resource Center. Several programs that have been offered by the Boys and Girls Club will also be used. Teague said children will receive help with homework and opportunities for physical activity and arts and crafts.
So far, 17 children have been signed up for the program, but Teague said she expects more applications in the first days of school. She said there is no limit on the number of children who can use the program, but going off the numbers the Family Resource Center had last year she expects around 25 each day.
"We always want more," she said.
Staffing the program will be three former resource center employees and Boys and Girls Club employees. The former resource center workers will be paid by the Boys and Girls Club.
One familiar element of the Family Resource Center will remain when King continues her work with children in a South Cape location in the new program.
"We are really glad that Pat is going to be able to continue on with this program," Teague said. "The program is so important for the parents, the kids and the community."
King said she and other former resource center staff are excited about the new program.
"I personally think it's a good merger. Both programs can only enhance each other and both programs have the same mission of serving kids in the south end of Cape," King said.
She said parents of children she has talked to who will attend feel the same.
"They're pretty excited about it and excited that the staff that was at the resource center will get to travel with the kids," she said.
"I just hope that everybody's as excited as we are and that everyone that supported us at the resource center will continue to support us, because it is a great opportunity for us."
Applications for the program can be filled out at the Boys and Girls Club at 1913 Whitener St. or found online at www.clubcapegirardeau.org.
835 S. West End Blvd., Cape Girardeau, MO