A valentine to son's life-changing after school program


To the Editor:

February 14 is not always about chocolates and roses. For my family, a day devoted to love goes beyond our family circle and also extends to feeling appreciative of the supportive community around us. This includes the after school programs at my oldest son’s former elementary and current middle school.

My family and I love Kidventure and Bain . Over the years, I have seen devoted staff truly care about my son and the other children in the program. Their interactions with the parents and families at the end of the day also are visible markers indicating that they are an important part of our diverse community dedicated to seeing all children grow and thrive.

Kidventure and now Bain have allowed my son to further explore the arts and computer programs beyond the curriculum typically taught at his school. By integrating fun activities with hands-on learning and fostering positive relationships among students and staff, my son’s joy for his after school programs is a breath of fresh air and a pivot from the usual school day that usually focuses mostly on academic achievement and standardized testing scores.

With the ever-changing advances in computers and technology, I am extremely grateful that the Kidventure and Bain staff have exposed him to fields and programs I find overwhelming to keep up with. My son loves Scratch and other coding programs and is always excited to show me what he’s learning on our home computer.

Being a busy family with two other children to care for, on top of full-time careers where we work opposite shifts, my husband and I can find it difficult to have our son involved in all the extracurricular activities we would like. It is also incredibly challenging for us to find time together as a family between our work shifts. Kidventure and Bain have allowed our family to keep our child involved without overextending ourselves. The after school programs also provide homework help so that when we are finally all home together, we can sit down for dinner together and later relax and unwind together. We greatly value this brief time together five times a week.

An unexpected benefit of the after school programs is how involved I personally have become with my own community. Having moved to Cranston only a couple of years before, I was still familiarizing myself with my new surroundings when my son first attended Kidventure. I became involved in the school’s parents group as co-chair, and through this, I met Ayana Crichton, former director of Kidventure. The partnership between the school and the after school program evolved into a friendship between us that has now led me to various wonderful opportunities with Ms. Crichton to further devote to community-building through things such as the OneCranston initiative, the CCAP board, and to my current career as a Wellness Coordinator for the Providence Public Schools Department where I strive to ensure student success through health and wellness for 24,000 youths. Through Ms. Crichton, I have made important connections, impactful friendships, and have learned so much.

My now 11-year-old son sees the impact the after school programs has had on not only him and his friends, but also on how it has shaped his own family’s commitment to our overall community. He has grown up feeling grateful for all the things he has had, has learned valuable life skills, regularly engages in discussions around equity and the challenges his peers might face, and my husband and I do not worry about any lack of engagement with his studies or his social and emotional well being.

My family and I are so happy and appreciative of Kidventure and Bain , so grateful for their hard-working staff, and so thankful for the many friends we have made along the way who help make our community better and stronger and safer. We cannot wait until his two younger siblings are ready to be a part of the after school community and reap its many benefits.

Solight Sou



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