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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP / East County | Newbury Park

Club Y Keeps Kids Busy After School

September 21, 2000|JOSH KARP

Since the start of the fall semester, 11-year-old Sean Dailey had spent most afternoons at home. Alone.

The Newbury Park sixth-grader's parents work, so when the school day ended, he rode his bike from Sequoia Middle School to his home, where he spent the next few hours doing homework and watching television, he said.

This week, Sean began spending his afternoons at school with eight fellow students getting help on homework and playing sports. Soon the students also will take field trips and listen to guest speakers.

Dailey is one of 19 students participating in Club Y, a Conejo Valley YMCA after-school program at Sequoia and Los Cerritos middle schools.

Club Y is designed to keep youths busy with homework and games through 6:30 p.m. It also helps students acquire skills in leadership, career placement and community service--without leaving school grounds.

"I don't have to go too far, which is pretty nice," Sean said. "I can get a lot done here and don't have many distractions."

Officials say that youngsters occupied with constructive activities are likely to stay away from troublesome ones, such as smoking, drinking and committing crimes. According to a recent study by a national anti-crime advocacy group, the peak hours for juvenile crime are between 3 and 8 p.m.

More programs like Club Y are desperately needed, said Debbie Bergevin, a member of the Ventura County Childcare Planning Council. "I think middle school children are very vulnerable to the kinds of activities we don't want them to get involved in," she said.

Sean's mother, Roberta Dailey, said she is grateful for Club Y.

"He's only 11 and we don't think he's old enough to be home alone," she said. "Now I know he's safe."

Club Y, which has monthly fees ranging from $40 for a child to attend one day a week to $160 for the full week, organizes its activities based on specific themes, such as teen work prep week to introduce different careers and focus on how to complete a job application. There will also be community service week, providing students a chance to get involved with local volunteer opportunities.

The Conejo Unified School District, which has offered after-school care at its 19 elementary schools for about a decade, began this YMCA middle school program at the request of many parents, said Supt. Jerry Gross.

"Sixty percent of our families are two workers," Gross said. "When you have that going . . . child care is an important program for this age group."

Last year, Redwood Middle School began participating in a program called "Student Union," after-school activities arranged by the Conejo Recreation and Park District at the Thousand Oaks Teen Center. About 10 students each from Sequoia and Los Cerritos middle schools also participate in this program.

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