For nearly half a century, Peace Neighborhood Center has been there for Ann Arbor’s vulnerable residents. It’s a place that serves the underserved, the underprivileged and the impoverished. Most of all, it’s a place that helps take children, adults and families from disadvantaged to empowered.
PNC relies on a dedicated staff of over 200 to help instill these goals through programs like REACH (Responsibility, Education, Achievement, Community, and Hope). REACH is an after-school program for low-income K-5 students designed to develop social skills and academic excellence through educational, enjoyable and rewarding tutoring and relative activities.
Since 1971, when Peace Neighborhood Center became a self-governing, non-profit community center, there has been help for those who may have been neglected without it. Among today’s PNC programming are employment assistance services, substance abuse programs, crisis needs programs and food distribution initiatives, summer day camps, educational support and instruction, college prep programs, family enrichment and assistance in transitional housing.
PNC Children’s Service Coordinator Terri Strom calls REACH an atypical program.
“Often, people think that an afterschool program is a place where students have a “hang-out” place to go for a few hours, and then head home,” Strom said.
It is, she explains, very unique and very structured with science, yoga, drum line, chess, dance, and cooking among past and present weekly activities, as are indoor or outdoor free time, games, toys, books, arts and crafts and more.
“We help children learn at REACH, but learning absolutely must have fun elements to keep kids engaged,” Strom said. “If a first-grader has trouble reading, we will read with them and play educational games that involve reading.
“You can do a lot of work with kids without letting them in on the fact that that they are learning. Junior Scrabble is one example of a game we use that teaches them word skills while they have fun.”
REACH children, with help from an extensive roster of community volunteer tutors, are engaged in creative activities that develop social skills and healthy, positive attitudes. Instructors guide youth through themed activities based on a character development model that rotates monthly during each academic year. Some past and present themes have been responsibility, communication, peace and justice, and integrity.
Going the extra mile for kids and their families is the backbone of REACH.
“We will go to school meetings and parent-teacher conferences with them, offer evaluation and assistance, and attend I.E.P. [Individualized Education Program] meetings to advocate and to help parents understand these processes so that they’ll be able to advocate for their children in the future,” Strom said.”
“Our goal is to support kids and their families both socially and academically.”
The REACH After School Program runs September through June on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-7 p.m. for kids in kindergarten through fifth grade. A light meal is provided.
Peace Neighborhood Center’s mission:
To provide programs for children, families, and individuals who affected by social and economic problems. Peace Neighborhood Center helps people discover their options, enhance their skills, and make choices that lead to self-sufficiency and positive community involvement.
For more information:
Peace Neighborhood Center
1111 North Maple Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Web site: Peace Neighborhood Center
Facebook: Peace Neighborhood Center on Facebook