Chicago rounds up after-school activities

Bright, colorful and easy to navigate, afterschoolchicago.org is a one-stop resource for parents and students stuck in an after-school slump. All it takes is a Chicago ZIP code and picking one (or more) of eight activity areas—ranging from"Creative” to"Religious”—to find local after-school programs for kids ages 6-18.

Included with each search is an interactive Google map showing the location of schools in the area, public transportation, where to find the activities and a short description of each with contact information.

“We know that there are all these different programs out there, but it’s difficult to find them,” says Anne Sheahan, director of public information at the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services."This is one central location that both parents and youth can go to discover the options in their area.”

The after-school programs listed on the site cover Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Public Libraries, the Chicago Park District, After School Matters and the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services. And programs aren’t limited to the after-school hours, either. Evening, weekend and summer activities are also listed.

“Here in Chicago we know that keeping kids safe through productive activities is important. It also supports their development overall,” Sheahan says. Kids who participate in after-school activities tend to do better in school, have better relationships and are less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol or be victims of after-school crime, Sheahan says.

Afterschoolchicago.org was launched by the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services as part of its Out-of-School Time Project after research showed that many teenagers didn’t know all their after-school options.

“Almost half were unaware of the variety of programs available to them,” says Mary Ellen Caron, commissioner of the Chicago Department of Children and Youth Services.

Programs will be added to the site as they become available.

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