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New after school program in the works for WES underserved students

August 30, 2017

A new after school program is in the works for needy Wayne Elementary School students.

The yet-to-be named venture is a joint project of St. David’s Episcopal Church, the Wayne Art Center and St. John AME Church.

If the elementary school children don’t have somewhere to go after school, they will be “wandering aimlessly in the community,” said the Rev. Manual Howard with St. John AME Church. “They don’t have a lot of family structure or mentorship or guidance.” The children also need help academically with homework, he said.

A previous program for the WES students who qualify for free lunches had been funded by a grant from the Radnor Educational Foundation but that ended. Now the churches and WAC are hoping to fill the void for kindergarten through fifth grade at-risk children.

Some 59 children from 39 families have been identified as eligible for the after school enrichment program, said Gloria Erb, with the Delaware County Housing Authority, who attended a meeting on Monday at WAC.

The Rev. Frank Allen, rector at St. David’s, said that “pockets of poverty and need” exist in Wayne and there is “a pressing need to give all children” the resources they need to succeed and “become their best selves.” The church’s outreach committee has donated $3,000 to start the program. Teachers and parishioners have volunteered their time to work with the children.

Jane Wilson, with St. David’s, said that plans are already in place to begin the program at the church and arrangements have been made with the Radnor Township School District to bus children there after school on Tuesdays and Thursday. Also, sign up letters have been passed out to families. Wilson hopes that a van will be donated to help drive the children to their homes afterwards.

Nancy Campbell, WAC executive director, said that activities such as theater, culinary arts, music and ceramics are possibilities for Mondays and Wednesdays at WAC. It was unclear whether the children would go to WAC on Fridays after school or go to the Radnor Township Community Center (RTCA) on Highland Avenue.

“It’s part of our mission to meet the needs of the community,” said Campbell.

“My vision is to partner with anybody and everybody,” said Howard. “Most people have no clue about Highland Avenue and Highland Homes,” said Howard. Many of the low income children who live on that street are fatherless, he said.

And Howard identifies with those children.

“I was born to a 15-year-old mother,” he said. He was placed in foster care with the George Sydnor family in Garrett Hill who raised him.

Those at the kick-off meeting discussed possible names for the new program and agreed that they should apply for 501 C3 status so that people can receive a tax benefit for donations.

Howard said the name should be one that makes “all feel welcome.”

Marissa Kiepert Truong, head of school for St. David’s Episcopal Day School, which is slated to open in the fall of 2018, said that scholarships to that school will be available to low income children. The new school will begin as a preschool for ages 2 through kindergarten but she hopes to eventually expand and add an elementary school, as well.

“These groups have the community’s best interests in mind and are going to do tremendous things to help our children out,” said Jake Abel, a candidate for commissioner in Ward 6, who said he learned about the need for an after school program when canvassing the community. “I am grateful for the opportunity to be included in these talks and look forward to supporting their initiatives going forward.”

The program is slated to begin on Oct. 17 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. More information about the program will be on the St. David’s Church website: http://www.stdavidschurch.org/

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