United Way Supports After-School Programs

United Way helps combat bullying through after-school programs

United Way of the Lower Mainland knows that bullying damages kids. United Way helps to prevent bullying by investing in after-school programs, safe places where children feel they belong, find great role models and grow their confidence. Reaching children at risk before they make the wrong choices is critical to preventing bullying.

Through United Way’s School’s Out initiative—the largest investment of its kind in the region—United Way supports 30 organizations in Burnaby, Langley, the North Shore, Richmond, Surrey and the Tri-Cities, to run 60 programs. These programs provide at-risk children with safe and healthy after-school activities, helping to end destructive behaviours and ensuring kids make the right life choices.

One such program is the Young Chefs after-school program offered through Coquitlam’s Place Maillardville.

“We talk about bullying at the top of each class,” says Diane Morrison, Manager, School and Youth Programs at the community centre. At the beginning of each season, the children sign a respect contract. “We define, with the help of the kids, verbal, physical and emotional bullying. They take it seriously and know what it is.”

“I think it’s important because you have to respect other people,” says Hayoon, a young participant in the program.

“Whether it’s sports, crafts, drama, cooking or ‘weird science,’ our after-school programs give kids the opportunity to participate in activities in a safe and positive environment,” says Al Boire, executive director of the community centre. “These children grow in self-esteem and confidence and are able to build on these positive experiences.”

Place Maillardville is now in its fifth year of delivering after-school programming, and offers 40 programs to 561 children.

“We couldn’t do it without funding from United Way. It would just stop. Every cent goes into staffing,” says Morrison.

Altogether, United Way invested $5.5 million in 2012 to agencies and organizations that help children aged 6 to 12 make the right choices. Children who bully may continue to express their aggression throughout life, choosing to participate in gang violence or harassment. Children who are bullied can suffer from loneliness, depression and anxiety, and are more likely to experience thoughts of suicide.

For more information, visit www.uwlm.ca/prevent#bullying.

Click here to find out how you can do your part to help prevent bullying.