WESTMINSTER — City middle school students who might otherwise be home alone will spend time after school next year in organized play and learning activities under a pilot recreation program funded through a federal child-care grant.
County child-care coordinator Leslie Hinebaugh said the grant will enable participating county agencies to provide low-cost, after-school activities for students.
"Most of these students would be home alone with nothing to do.
"That's when they might be looking for other things to do, like drugs, alcohol or engaging in sexual activity," Hinebaugh said.
"Kidsfrom East and West Middle schools, who normally wouldn't have anything to do, will now be able to come and participate in these programs."
The $7,000 grant, disbursed through the Maryland Department of Education to the county's Department of Recreation and Parks, will enable recreational, instructional and special-interest activities to beprovided daily at West Middle School from mid-January at least through September.
The county will hire a part-time director and an assistant to organize activities.
The program, in cooperation with the Board of Education, the Middle School Recreation Council, Human Services Programs' IMPACT program and the Department of Citizen Services, will provide recreational activities and information on teen topics.
"We plan to do a different activity each day," Hinebaugh said.
"Bowling clubs, modern dance, drama, cheerleading, baby-sitting certification and quilting will be some of the programs we will offer."
Intervention Means Parents and Children Talking, the county's teenpregnancy prevention program, will supply guest speakers who will discuss teen issues.
"We became involved with the program because wefeel that if kids have alternatives, early sexual activity will be delayed," said IMPACT coordinator Chris Spicer.
Spicer said she would introduce as instructional topics such teen issues as drug and alcohol abuse, abstinence and teen love, self-esteem, first aid and the environment.
When school ends at 3:15 p.m., students will go to the cafeteria or gym at West Middle for a snack and discussion on teen issues.
Recreational activities will be 4 to 5:30 p.m., with dismissal at 6.
Thirty students can participate in each of 40 eight-week sessions, at a cost of $25 each.
Student fees will pay for recreational activities.
Hinebaugh said the program will continue through the summer, at a cost to students of $12 per day.
Scholarships will be available through the Middle School Recreation Council.
Last semester, similar after-school programs were conducted once a weekfor more than 100 students at West, North Carroll, Northwest and Mount Airy Middle schools.
Those programs cost $10 per eight-week session.
Tim Frock, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at West Middle finished attending the after-school drama program at his school Wednesday.
"I have enjoyed doing the skits and talking about mime. I think it's neat."
Frock, who participates 3:15 to 6 p.m. said, "I will still come in January because I like the activities, and it gives me something to do since both my parents work."
The once-a-week programs were funded by student fees, a grant from the county commissioners and Carroll public schools.