On an average afternoon, school kids freshly released for the day can still be seen in multi-purpose rooms, computer labs, music rooms, and playgrounds.

But students in the Kyrene School District aren’t just passing time until their parents pick them up, they are part of a program that seeks to provide engaging and fun activities that carry over solid lessons once the school bell rings.

From an early start in the late 1990s with just a handful of schools, Kyrene School District’s before- and after-school program, Kids Club, wants to maintain the goal it started with.

“There was a community need and Kyrene responded to it,” said Josh Glider, assistant director of community, education, and outreach services at Kyrene.

Now at 16 schools in the district, Kids Club provides programs and activities for kids before, after, and during school breaks in the summer, spring and winter. Early Learning Centers provide care and learning for kids preparing for kindergarten while the majority of Kids Club’s children are in kindergarten through fifth grade.

“It’s a safe place for them to be after school, rather than going home and playing video games,” said Lauren Woodworth, a Kids Club educator at Kyrene de la Sierra Elementary in Ahwatukee.

Just a couple of weeks after the new school year commenced, an array of tables covered the space inside Kyrene de la Sierra’s multi-purpose room on a Tuesday afternoon. About 60 kids participated in activities like hula-hoop contests, played with building blocks, and broke off into smaller group times that focused on computer skills and help with homework.

Roars of laughter and fun music echoed through the room.

“(Kids Club) is such a great program, I wish I had it when I was a kid,” said Woodworth, while preparing to emcee the hula-hoop contest.

This year Glider said the program wants to continue providing engaging, and plain-old fun activities for kids that also teach them things.

Gilder said the program constantly looks for feedback from parents and the community about Kids Club, varying from changes to weekly schedules and activities.

“I really want every single student in Kyrene to know about Kids Club,” he added. “I want the kids to enjoy it so much that when parents come to pick them up, they’d say, ‘But I don’t want to go home yet.’”

For more information on Kyrene’s Kids Club, visit kyrene.org or call (480) 541-1500.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com

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