The Access revamps programming schedule

By Joseph Slacian

Some after-school programming changes are taking place beginning this week at The Access Youth Center.

“We have been doing an after-school program of some sort for the last nine years, mostly without change,” Director Liz Hobbs said. “That’s a remarkable amount of time to do an after-school program with little change and have it still be effective.

“Recently, though, in talking with our kids and parents – we kind of talk with them about every program to make sure we’re still being relevant and still hitting what they need – and so in talking with them, there’s been some interest in a new schedule and some new programs.”

The Access will still have programs after school and will still supply food during the program, as well as mentoring and homework help components.

“That hasn’t changed,” Hobbs said. “Basically, what has changed is the time frame and also, we’re going to do some things that are more age-specific. We recognize it’s important to have some different ages interacting. That works well down here and has always worked well.
“But we also want to be mindful that some middle schoolers and high schoolers need some time, and some time elementary schoolers need some time.”

The revamped schedule includes:

Young Adult Bible Study for those ages 18 and up from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays.

A seven-week Bible study, in conjunction with Wabash Friends Church, is currently taking place, Hobbs noted.

“However, after that study is over, we’re going to continue and give opportunity for another church to partner with us if they’d like,” she continued. “Our former Access kids, kids who actually represent the very first youth group I’ve ever had when I came down here, they really expressed some interest in wanting a place to come and wanting a place to be, other than a bar. We want to provide that for them. If that’s something that’s a need in the community, we want to do that.”

What’s on the Weber (grill)? From 3:45 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays. Designed for ages 8-18. It includes food, games, mentoring and homework help.

“We cook out every Wednesday now,” Hobbs said. “It’s really just like a community cook-out. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Grilled Cheese Thursday for youth in fifth through 12th grades. It will meet from 5-6 p.m. Thursdays and will include food, games, mentoring and homework help.

Girls Night from 6-7 p.m. Thursdays. It will include Bible study and mentoring programs.

Autism Support Group of Wabash County, 6-7 p.m. the third Thursday of each month. (On this night, the Girls Night activity will be a “destination night,” Hobbs noted, meaning a visit to someplace outside of the building.

Middle and High School Game Night, 5-8 p.m. Fridays. The night will consist of food and games for the participants. On First Fridays, the building will be open to everyone.

“It’s kind of a throwback to when I first came to The Access,” Hobbs said of Game Night. “The kids wanted it to be over before Cosmic Bowling started. Which is awesome, because we encourage them to be involved with whatever the community is offering for them.”

Access officials also have been working with the Boy Scouts of America to begin a Cub Scouts program.

“That would represent another opportunity for our younger crowd,” Hobbs said. “Since boys and girls can be in Cub Scouts now, we’re excited that we are putting it together. Because boys and girls will be together, we need a man and a lady to be leaders. I’ve went through the training to be a leader, but we don’t have a man yet who can come along and do this on a weekly basis.

“But once that’s in place, what that looks like is we have something for the young adults, something for the younger kids, something for everyone together and then something for the older kids. So, we’re excited about that because we really feel this reflects what the kids and families are asking for.”

As of now, nothing is scheduled for Mondays.

“We’re taking Mondays off,” Hobbs said. “Our numbers on Monday have been low. We take attendance every day, and so we look to see when is it the kids are here, and Mondays are low.”

Even though there is nothing scheduled on Mondays, the new schedule gives The Access three more hours of activities each week than it now has.

“Most of that is because of the extended time on Friday and Thursday being a little longer as well,” she said.

Officials also are looking for other programs to expand the schedule, including a Guys Night similar to the Girls Night. However, Hobbs said, a male is needed to oversee such a program.

In addition, The Access will host its annual “ThanksMas” dinner from 4-6 p.m. Dec. 1. This year’s theme is “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhoodie,” and officials hope to give all those in attendance a new hoodie sweatshirt.

Any individual or organization interested in donating new hoodies or funds to purchase new hoodies should call Hobbs at 260-563-2070.

The Access is located at 74 W. Canal St.

Posted on 2018 Nov 06