Donation supports program for vulnerable children

The Beyond the Bell program has made a world of difference for Nicole Brochu's daughter, Kiera.

The program, offered by the YMCA of Northern BC, provides after-school activities and academic support for 40 low-income and vulnerable students at Glenview Elementary School. On Monday, Enbridge announced $85,000 over three years in funding to allow the program to continue after other funding ended in June.

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"I can't say enough how much this program has impacted my family and my daughter," Brochu said. "Through her time at Beyond the Bell, I've seen a marked improvement in her reading, in her grades. It's more than just an after-school club, it allows children to chose the right path."

The working mom of three said there isn't always enough time in the day to do all the things she wishes she could with her children. Through the Beyond the Bell program, Kiera – who is in Grade 5 – has had a chance to do some things she might not otherwise have a chance too.

"Last winter they learned how to skate. She was talking about it for weeks," Brochu said.

YMCA of Northern BC CEO Amanda Alexander said the program has been running for three years, funded by an anonymous donor. When that funding ran out in June, "Enbridge stepped up and made it possible to keep offering the program," she said.

The program costs $85,000 per year to operate, and Canadian Tire and the Vancouver Foundation has both also stepped up to support it.

"The program is 100 per cent supported philanthropically," Alexander said.

The YMCA is looking to raise $13,000 from community donations this year to keep the program operating, she added.

"Kids who attend Beyond the Bell, they all have financial barriers," she said. "We know that children with financial barriers enter Kindergarten, they are six months behind (on average). By the time they reach Grade 5, they are two to two-and-a-half years behind."

The Beyond the Bell program is designed to help vulnerable children close that gap, and keep up with their peers, she said.

"It takes all of us to build a healthy community," Enbridge community and indigenous engagement senior advisor Rikki Beaudet said. "We are proud to support YMCA’s Beyond the Bell program which fuels academic success and empowers every child in our community to reach their full potential.”

For more information, or to make a donation, go online to www.nbc.ymca.ca.

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