By: Sabi Reza
Parents know that in a big city like Chicago it’s important to keep kids occupied especially in today’s day and age where technology is in the palm of their hands. Programs that are part of the Chicago Park District and After School Matter was formed, for this reason, to get kids and teens moving.
The Chicago Park District Program offers swimming classes for toddlers and teens for free the first time they register but afterward there is a fee. There are also summer camp programs where kids get to socialize and participate in outdoor activities, unlike the swimming classes a payment has to be made the first time in order to register. The Chicago Park District and After School Matters don’t have much in common aside from programs geared towards young kids and teens.
After School Matters is a non-profit Chicago organization founded by Maggie Daley and offers great opportunities for kids and teens from ages 14 through 19. Students from low-income communities get involved in improving their neighborhoods by joining gardening classes, mural painting projects and mentoring programs where they get to tutor STEM related topics to kids in summer programs. After School Matters has a little bit of everything, from DJ programs to dancing and soccer programs where the only thing kids and teens need to bring is their energy and full attention.
Alma Reyes is a Junior in high school who participated in a gardening program with After School Matters called Growing Power. When asked about her experience, she said, “I learned the proper way to garden fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I also sold them, giving them to low-income communities. The project was to create a community garden. The first time I heard about After Schools Matters was from a friend in high school during my freshman year.”
After School Matters is open to Chicago students, and there is no fee needed to apply. Teens do receive a stipend for participating in the programs. The idea of giving teens an incentive to keep them motivated has worked as more and more programs are joining After School Matters in the efforts of creating a generation of children capable of using their problem solving and decision-making skills later in life.
Kids and teens involved in programs of After School Matters are encouraged to let their imagination go wild, the end results are creative art projects. These art projects are sold downtown at the After School Matters Gift Shop at 66 E Randolph St, so anyone who is interested in supporting the program is welcome to see the beautiful creations that Chicago students have to offer.