The basketball team during training
From dance, arts and cooking classes to basketball, volleyball and swimming, there are more than 40 activities from which children can choose to keep occupied in a positive manner after school.
The basketball team with SCS Club Coordinator Tracy Zagers-Johnson and the coaches.
The actors of the very successful Aladdin show.
SABA–With a wide range of afternoon activities in place, children in Saba do not have to be bored after school.
In total 313 children from both the primary and secondary schools are enrolled in the youth activities: 50 at Saba Nature Foundation, 117 at Child Focus, 111 students from Saba Comprehensive School (SCS) and 35 at Queen Wilhelmina Library.
The Saba Nature Foundation and Child Focus host activities for youngsters ages 4-12, while SCS hosts after-school activities called clubs for its students ages 12-18.
A selection of the activities offered are: hiking and science, arts and crafts, boxing, homework support, snorkelling/diving, softball/baseball, theatre, yearbook, Djembé drumming, board games, information technology, bellot, carnival costume design, Saba Fit, Junior/Sea Rangers, soccer, Lego tech, LGBTQ+ Pride club, animal care, track and field, guitar and piano lessons, West Indian cooking, chess, ballet, Leo Club, ceramics and textiles, sewing, triathlon swimming and biking, Latin dance, maths, astronomy and Boys and Girls Society.
The possibilities are almost endless with children combining several of the activities from Monday through Saturday. Children can also go to the library three times a week for Dutch lessons, English lessons, Spanish lessons, Math is Fun and homework support.
The youth activities have been in place for several years and are an integral part of the community and of growing up in Saba, with the involvement of many volunteers, teachers, staff and youth leaders.
Public Health Department project leader Lauren Risley said the youth activities are a good way for children and youngsters to learn what they are interested in. “It helps them to discover their passions, what they like. They develop their talents and it keeps them busy.”
Commissioner of Social Affairs Rolando Wilson praised the many after-school activities.
“All organisations involved work hard to provide opportunities for Saba’s children. This is an important investment in the development of these young people, a cause that the public entity and the different stakeholders are committed to. I am happy to see that stakeholders joined forces to make this possible.
“Also, it helps to guide the young people on this island and to ensure that they are staying on the right path. Our youth is the future of Saba. It’s good to see them showing their talents in different fields,” he said.
Child Focus Program Manager Sapphire Ramkissoon said the after-school activities are very important for the children, especially on a small island like Saba. “The children are kept busy with activities that they like and it takes some pressure off the parents.” She explained that at Child Focus, which was set up in 2001, parents pay no fee. Per day, Child Focus has about 30 to 40 children with activities taking place at different locations.
The vast majority of the children come from Sacred Heart School. They are brought to Child Focus after school by the bus drivers of the public entity Saba. Child Focus hosts 15-17 activities per week, in the afternoons on weekdays and on Saturday morning, with a maximum of three activities per child. A sensory room is being prepared for special-needs children.
Child Focus also hosts the summer camp during July, as well as cultural exchange trips with St. Eustatius and other islands, and day trips to St. Maarten. The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately put a stop to these trips.
Participating in after-school activities is compulsory for the SCS students. They have to attend at least two clubs from 2:30 to 4:00pm on weekdays or on Saturday morning. There are about close to 35 clubs from which the students can choose. The programme has been in place for three years and it is very successful, said SCS Club Coordinator Tracy Zagers-Johnson.
“We see a real positive attitude from the children and their parents, and we receive positive feedback. Our students have become stronger and gained more self-confidence. The clubs provide them the opportunity to do something that they like, to have something useful to do. It broadens the students’ horizons, teaches them about leadership and working together,” said SCS Principal Anton Hermans.
Zagers-Johnson said the clubs contribute to more motivation and self-discipline. The after-school activities are also positive for the students’ curricula vitae and their tertiary studies. The clubs are organised based on the children’s interest. For example, a female basketball club was recently added based on the large interest of female students. Some clubs meet multiple times per week.
There are about 35 club leaders who get paid for this work. Many teachers are club leaders.
According to Hermans, this pays off because the teachers build on the relationship with their students through the clubs.
The clubs can also count on the help of many volunteers. Apart from the regular clubs, there are also special activities such as the Christmas Assembly where the different clubs show their talents on stage.
The various sports clubs are encouraged to participate in events such as the different runs and the annual triathlon. The basketball club participated in a competition with the visiting basketball team from St. Eustatius in December 2020 and will compete again in April this year. Saba basketballers also travelled to Statia in January 2020. In 2019, an inter-island competition took place.
SCS participated in the Saba Carnival parade in 2018 and 2019 with its own costumes made by the Carnival Costume Club. Last year, a Saba Day show was organised in the week leading up to Saba Day. SCS organises a club market at the start of the school year, enabling children to take a look around at the booths of the different clubs and to pick their clubs for the new school year.
A highly successful event this year was the musical “Aladdin” performed by members of SCS’ drama club under the guidance of club leader Dahlia Hassell. For two weeks in March, Saba residents flocked to Eugenius Johnson Center to marvel at the youngsters’ talents and the wonderful costumes.
“The two hours of splendour means four months of hard work and dedication. A show like ‘Aladdin’ brings Saba together. We could not have done it without the volunteers. A show like this opens people’s minds to the unlimited talents and the abilities of our children. It shows possibilities and opportunities,” said Hassell.
Drama club teaches valuable skills, discipline and responsibility. “Drama is a good way to express, to explore. Self-expression helps you to build as a person, especially when you are in your puberty, which is a really weird phase in your life. Drama club is another chance for the children to create beautiful memories,” said Hassell.
“Some children come in with extreme shyness or a stutter. Some are very insecure. I see them grow and develop. We treat the drama club as a family; we bicker, but we still love each other like a family.
“I am very proud of my students. We get it done – that is showbiz.”
The youth activities in Saba are financed from different sources. The funding for Saba Nature Education, the library, After School Care and Day Care dance class comes from BES(t) 4 Kids, a programme aimed at improving quality in childcare in the Caribbean Netherlands.
Funding for the Child Focus and SCS clubs comes from the Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sport VWS. The Saba Fit, or Fit with Lee programme is funded by the Saba Public Health Department.
Apart from the regular youth activities, there are also annual events that cater to children and their families. Some of these annual events are Easter Family Day, Book Week, Summer Camp, UNICEF Film Festival, Halloween, Children’s Rights Week, Saba Day and the Spelling Bee.
Bron: Daily Herald