After-school program gives youth positive alternatives

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The period of time after school ends is a crucial time for children and adolescents. It's a time that unsupervised kids can get into a lot of trouble; but it's also a time period they can get their homework done or be creative.

A new program on Cape Girardeau's Southside aims to help youth make good decisions and have positive interactions after the school bell rings.

The program is offered at the Creative Arts Learning and Literacy Center at 402 South Sprigg St., the same building as the conNEXTion Community Resource Center, as reported recently by Jacob Wiegand.

"Just giving them a safe place, a fun place, where they can be kids," said Soni Lloyd, coNEXTion program manager. "And to give them different alternatives so they don't find themselves getting into criminal activity or find themselves in the juvenile system or doing drugs."

CoNEXTion is founded through Community Counseling Center. The Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau sponsors the after-school program, which is for children from 5 to 18 years old. It's offered during a seven-week period; art classes are offered 4 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays as well as a reading program on Thursdays. The program, made possible with the assistance of Southeast Missouri State University students, will conclude later this month.

Sharon Braun, director of public relations and special projects at Community Counseling Center, said the free program gives the youth opportunities they may not otherwise have access to. The students are transported to the center via school bus, and are taken home by Community Counseling Center vans. The idea was originated by the Rotary Club.

"All of these groups in the community are cooperating, working together, for kids. To provide a safe place, a safe environment," said Robert Gifford, president of Rotary Club of Cape Girardeau.

Plans are in the works to keep this program going and perhaps expand it, including as it relates to the arts. The Rotary Club has once again shown the good that can come from private donations. These are dollars well spent.

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