Win 4 Kids Finalist- Toronto Foundation for Student Success

TFSS_-_PHOTO.jpgBeyond 3:30 is a free after-school program that currently runs in 16 middle schools located in Toronto’s priority neighborhoods. Beyond 3:30 provides students with a safe place where they can have fun and engage in physical activity.

Over 1, 200 youth between the ages of 11-14 are currently enrolled in beyond 3:30 and they attend 3-5 days a week. The program runs daily from September to June during the critical hours of 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.  

In the communities where beyond 3:30 sites are located, there is a high percentage of immigrant parents, many who need to work multiple part-time jobs to sustain their families. There is little or no money for organized sport. Students in these areas are often left alone while their parents are working and are more likely to become involved in dangerous or negative activities such as gang related violence.

Currently only 9% of boys and 4% of girls meet the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, especially those living in neighbourhoods with low average incomes and high proportions of immigrants. It’s a challenge for students to engage in physical activities outside of school requirements.

Michelle Bowen, a GoodLife Fitness Member says, “Through these various activities beyond 3:30 attempts to keep kids engaged and occupied in the after-school hours to prevent them from roaming the streets where criminal activity and mischief tend to occur in these neighborhoods.” She continues, “I nominated this program because I understand the importance of physical activity and the love for sports when there is usually nothing else positive to turn to. Beyond 3:30 provides this opportunity for youth in a safe environment.”

Beyond 3:30 focuses on helping youth develop healthy habits. Each afternoon begins with a daily physical activity session where youth engage in active games. They then participate in cooking a healthy meal while they learn about proper nutrition. Skill-based sports instruction is provided for a full hour. That means the participants are physically active for 80-90 minutes each school day. 

TESTIMONIAL

beyond 3:30 is a place that I love.  The staff are amazing and the things we get to do are unbelievable.  It lets me have a place to be instead of going out causing trouble.  It opens many doors for me and since I’ve been going to beyond 3:30 I’ve gotten much smarter and much more mature.  If there is any place I want to be after school it’s beyond 3:30.”

- Participant 

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The Confidence to Try #FEELGOODFRIDAY Lukas is a 10-year-old Raptors fan who plays basketball with his local chapter of Special Olympics, but it wasn’t that long ago that he was afraid to join a team. Lukas is an outgoing kid who likes to make friends and has always been very active. But his early experiences in organized physical activity were not positive. One of his biggest challenges with autism is struggling to follow directions in large groups. He was often told he was doing things wrong and even that he would embarrass the team. “These negative comments deflated his confidence, and he became afraid to try new things,” explained his mom Lisa. When he was eight, Lukas took part in the Sports of All Sorts program at the Geneva Centre for Autism. The supportive environment in the Sports of All Sorts program, funded by a GoodLife Kids grant, was a real game-changer for him. Constant encouragement and positive reinforcement gave Lukas a safe space to explore new activities without a fear of being judged. With one-on-one support he played basketball, baseball, tennis, and golf. “We’re so glad to make physical activity a regular part of Lukas’ life and we’ve found ways for him to continue practicing at home,” said Lisa. “We bought a tennis net for the backyard, and now that he’s not afraid, he loves to go to glow-in-the-dark mini-putt with his dad!” As Lukas turned around on the basketball court to wave to his mom, he gave her two big thumbs up and her eyes welled up with tears of joy. “Watching him enjoy himself, I’m overwhelmed with happiness and pride,” she shared. “He has talents! But most of all, he has regained a belief in himself – that he CAN do it – and that is so powerful.”

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