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Sewickley Valley YMCA expands after-school program to meet demand

| Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, 7:03 p.m.
Sewickley Herald
Tyler Rose Farland, 8, of Baden plays a game of pool by herself inside the Sewickley Valley YMCA teen center, the Oasis, Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2012. Tyler, a YMCA member, stopped by the Oasis with her mother, Sherri. Kristina Serafini | Sewickley Herald

Teens in the area will have an extra day every week this year to play and get homework help during Sewickley Valley YMCA's after-school program.

The program, for students in grades six through 12, runs from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the YMCA's teen activity center, OASIS, which stands for Organized Activity Space in Sewickley.

A kickoff party is scheduled for 3 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and will feature pizza, games, crafts, a dunk tank and swimming.

“As with many adjustments to the OASIS programming, the decision to expand through Friday came first from our kids,” said Hank Ford, Y youth development director.

“Over time, I noticed that teens and tweens showed up increasingly regularly during the after-school hours on Fridays, a general ‘non-program' time, when the OASIS is open to all members.”

When Ford proposed expanding, he said he received positive feedback from participants and volunteer staff.

Participants will have the opportunity to sample youth-focused sessions of Y fitness classes or special physical activities six times this semester.

During the program, students can get weekly tutoring from a Laughlin Children's Center representative; participate in art workshops through Sweetwater Center for the Arts; play Wii, Xbox 360 on big screen televisions, as well as play board games, ping pong, billiards, swim from 3:30 to 4:30 on Thursdays; and make crafts.

There are about 10 adult volunteers with about a dozen more who provide and serve food.

“As our program expands, we always are in search of additional program and cooking volunteers to help serve the kids,” Ford said.

Food funds come from Sewickley Presbyterian Church and Quaker Valley School District, which buses children to the Y after school.

Another source of funding is Village Green's Sewickley Soup Crawl, held in March.

Volunteers include Ford, parents, community leaders and Y workers. Volunteers can sign up for a daily snack schedule set up online.

About 24 students use OASIS on a daily basis, with an outreach of more than 200 middle and high school students from districts around the area, since the center opened in spring last year, Ford said.

Participants are permitted to drop in anytime.

“It is our aim to eliminate barriers for those in our communities who want and need this program,” Ford said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or jbarron@tribweb.com.

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