W.B. Sweeney Elementary School After School Program

By: Briana Torres

Program Mission
The After School Program offers a series of educational, artistic, and creative events for children. With help from organizations such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Eastern Connecticut State University’s Center for Community Engagement, we provide health and safety projects, as well as mentoring and reading support.

What We Did
Every Friday from 3:15 to 5:15, I would attend the Before and After School Program (BASP) to volunteer and spend my time with about 25-30 kids in my community. When we first arrived, the children would be finishing up their snacks before the program started. Then they would separate into groups among the four staff and volunteers to read books and complete homework. After the reading portion was over, the CCE would have a planned activity that would allow the children to work creatively with their peers. For example, one day we learned how baking soda reacted in different liquids; and on another occasion we had them act out different animals in a group.

Volunteer Responsibilities

  • Help the children with their snacks.
  • Help the children read books and do homework.
  • We usually have a program set up for the children to complete that allows the children to be creative while learning.
  • Interact with the children by facilitating games for all of them to play together outside.

Experience and Impact
Overall, I liked working at the BASP program at Sweeney. The program was very structured, and way the students respected and admired the program staff and volunteers. I learned that kids always love to learn when you make it fun. They are so bright and open with you, and it is amazing to watch their minds grow as they learn new things. This program changed my life, because I got to bond with the kids as the program progressed, and it was hard to say goodbye.

Through volunteering I was allowed to connect with the kids in the community around me instead of staying in the “Eastern Campus Bubble” and get to know the children that actually live here. Willimantic has a diverse community that contain children with really big personalities. This program continues to run every year giving the children a safe place to go after school is let out when parents might not be available. This allows parents to know that their children are well taken care of and their education is the number one priority.