Sunday, February 1, 2015

After school program begins in Kansas City, Kan.

Courtesy of the Unified Government

KANSAS CITY, KAN. ----- The 180 Degrees Program officially launched today at Northwest Middle School in Kansas City, Kansas.

The pilot program is the first of its kind in Kansas City, Kan., and is being funded through a $60,000 grant from the State of Kansas in partnership with Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and Heartland 180, which is a new non-profit organization.

Jonas Hayes, Pastor of Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church of Overland Park, Kan, started a similar program in Greenville, Mississippi and is excited to get the after-school program officially started here in the Midwest.

Hays said the first day began with an explanation about the program to youth and their parents, which was followed by an introduction of the program's facilitators,"

"We want the youth to be interactive so the first day we plan to have the rules and expectations developed by the youth. Asking them, what are important rules and expectations they think we should have to follow? This is a way of giving them a sense of ownership in the program," Hayes said.

Juvenile Services of Wyandotte County originally planned to kick-off the new pilot initiative a week ago, but organizers decided to reschedule the first day to ensure all of the resources and facilitators were in place.

The day-to-day operations will be managed by Max Mendoza, Program Coordinator.

"This program has been proven to increase academic success, reduce truancy and juvenile related crime. If there aren't any options available for something constructive to do, often times youth create their own programs which lead to destructive behavior in the community. When given the right tools to learn, youth can have the confidence to become involved in the community and to live happy, healthy and productive lives," says Hayes, who serves as the program's Regional Director.

The program will require youth to meet for 3-hours a day 4-days out of the week and will serve up to 50 Wyandotte County youth between the ages of 11 and 17 who are currently enrolled in a KCKPS educational program.

The after-school program will serve youth who are either facing sentencing for a new offense or a sanction for violating conditions of their supervision, and/or have multiple unexcused absences.

"What sets the 180 Degrees Program aside from others is, 'community outreach.' This is one of the five core program components," Hayes said. "This takes to heart that success is not simply about the self-made man or woman; a healthy person gives back to the community."