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Empowering Darke County Youth
After School Program impacts students, volunteers and the community

The Greenville school bus pulls up in front of Edison State Community College Darke County Campus. The door opens and, one-by-one, kindergarten through fourth grade students climb off and head inside. Volunteers are waiting for them.

Some days there will be 25-30 students, others nearly 40. Students from South School or other districts are brought to campus by parents.

Ten weeks into Empowering Darke County Youth’s After School Program (ASP) enrollment remains relatively stable at 57 students. Since some arrive daily while others are only there one to four days a week, program “reach” is based upon “contact hours.” Each arrival on campus, whether for one hour or two, counts as one contact hour. At the end of ten weeks, the ASP had recorded 1,439 contact hours.

For the first hour or so, students receive help with homework, one-on-one tutoring where needed, doing math and word problems or reading. When all homework or other required work is done, students watch a movie, draw or color. Snacks are provided daily.

Volunteers have noted the successes of their efforts. Some ASP students resisted working in the beginning, but most have become accustomed to the schedule and what is expected of them.

As one Edison volunteer, Courtney Toops, put it, “if you can get some of these kids to sit long enough to read a book out loud and interact with you, you can accomplish anything.”

Edison volunteers Seth Phillippi and Jim Kildow noted some of the challenges.

“There was this kindergartner that didn’t want to go over his alphabet with flash cards,” Phillippi said. “I laid all the cards out and asked him who can find the letter the fastest. After that he was all for finding his letters. He even wanted me to make flash cards for him to take home.”

Kildow noted the practical side of his Edison Fundamentals of Communication class. “How do you explain 4 plus 5 to a kid who thinks 4 plus 5 equals 45?” he asked. “A lot of effort goes into being brief, clear and earning respect. This is communications on the most elementary level. If you're not a good communicator, you won't get through to them. They won't get work done. You either evolve good communications skills, or you fail to help them.”

Many students saw the success of their efforts through first quarter report cards… most showing progress, some on Merit or Honor rolls, others proudly toting A’s and B’s.

Edison volunteer Jacob Bradfield feels a sense of accomplishment working with the children. “I have seen growth not only in their school work but also in their behavior,” he said. “The kids’ faces light up when they get an answer right and this makes them more determined to work hard.”

While most volunteers saw the immediate value of the program, Edison volunteer Scout Meyer envisioned something more.

“I feel this program benefits the community as well as the families in it,” she said. “These children are the future and in order to function as members of the community they need to learn what they can now.

“I think this program is great and effective in what it does for everyone in it and in the surrounding communities,” she added. “I hope this program grows and influences more and more areas around the world, helping to educate children everywhere. While it is still pretty small now, I think it has huge potential to make a difference in everyone’s lives.”

The After School Program is in need of volunteers, donations and fundraising support. Contact Empowering Darke County Youth at empoweringdarkecountyyouth@gmail.com or call Edison at 937-548-5546.

See a full set of photos at Community Events Photo Gallery

Download the attached flyer summarizing Empowering Darke County Youth programs

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