NewsCovering Colorado


New clubhouse in Colorado Springs bringing different meaning to after-school care

Posted at 12:17 AM, Apr 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-11 00:31:37-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Friends of the Children chapter in Colorado Springs is bringing a different meaning to after-school care.

The program matches children with a mentor who offers guidance and tutoring after school hours and follows students throughout high school. Friends of the Children opened a new clubhouse at the Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy in partnership with Colorado Springs School District 11. Sherry Kalbach, the District 11 Southeast Area Superintendent, said the clubhouse is meant to serve lower socioeconomic
families and children facing adversity.

"We know that the southeast area of our district, and really of Colorado Springs in general, is an area that is highly impacted and has a significant amount of need," she said.

Mitchell High School in the southeast corner of District 11 had a graduation rate of 63% for the Class of 2022, while the state's average was 82%. Almost two-thirds of the students are enrolled in free and reduced school lunches.

Erich Nelson, a program mentor, is paired with eight different children. He said mentors take children to different activities after school, but the clubhouse is their homebase for play and learning.

"We try to tailor what we're doing with them based on their age," he said. "The growth that I'm seeing with these kids, even only being here a year, is amazing," he said.

Judy Cara, the Executive Director of the Friends of the Children chapter in Colorado Springs, said the new clubhouse is a safe space for children.

"They come in here and they start to feel more confident. They make friends and do things that maybe they haven't imagined they would ever do," said Cara.

Any child in El Paso County from the ages of four to six can enroll in the program. Friends of the Children is hiring full-time mentors with at least two years of experience with children.

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