The importance of after school care at Thunderbird Elementary

One of the first things you see as you walk up to Thunderbird Elementary is the big colorful sign “Invest in our children NOW – They are the future”. This color continues into the hallways with children’s art, all types, all colors, everywhere. Then Henry**, the Principal, steps out in his pink shirt and suspenders! Spending even 15 minutes with Henry and the women who have created the after school program KIDS FIRST at Thunderbird brings such feelings of hope and thankfulness for the people that are truly making a difference in our corner of the world. I was lucky enough to have a couple of visits. Seeing determination and dedication in action on a shoestring budget; case of macaroni and cheese in one corner, boxes of granola bars in another. They truly love these kids. They wish for not only an education for the children, but also safety, comfort, joy and life experiences. Stories all around: The little girl who had not smiled or talked for months when she first arrived at the school – the day she smiled in the after school program room brought Birgid to tears; Megan’s family members dropping by to read, play lego and be with the children; kids loving their (donated) broccoli snack; a child seeing the sand for the first time on a field trip. Things I take for granted as normal for my two teenage babes are not normal for some of these kids.

This school is lucky to have enough space for even more kids to attend the after school KIDS FIRST program. The dilemma these teachers have is they know the many children that would benefit from the program, they see how badly the children want to come and they are aware of the worry their mothers carry. The teachers know the need – they don’t lack space, they lack funding. Funding for staff, for the costs of activities and snacks. These teachers are bursting with ideas and passion; their appreciation is enormous and truly heart felt. It is nothing less than humbling and inspiring at the same time.

As a working mother myself, when you realize the alternative – how do we not help? Housing, Childcare, Supplies – Cause We Care’s three pillars, we hope to continue to build on this new relationship in the future – stay tuned!

**Henry has been transferred and is no longer the Principal at Thunderbird for this school year