Keeping Kids Off New Jersey Streets

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Giselle, a second-grader, is growing up in Jersey City, N.J., where many kids live in single-parent homes and after-school hours can be troublesome.

But Giselle and 65 other elementary school kids go to The After School Center run by New City Kids Christian Reformed Church for three hours after school every day. They come to sing, get tutoring, and learn skills such as dance, drama, music, and kickboxing.

All the kids are on teams named after universities. Giselle’s team, Princeton, is an advanced drum class. It’s normally for older kids, but Giselle’s dedication and skill earned her a promotion.

“I like drum class and I get help with my homework at After School,” she said. “It’s easier to do it here than at home.”

One of Giselle’s tutors is Greg Nelson, 17, who started attending New City Kids Church at age five and moved through the kids’ programs into teen employment at age 14.

Greg has been a drum teacher and assistant team leader, and now is one of two team leaders helping to oversee all of the teen employees at the After School Center. Teen employees are given performance reviews, promotions, and raises and are expected to keep their grades up when they work at the center.

According to Wendy Eaton, the center’s director of communication, the center was opened in 2005 and is funded by a combination of individual gifts, private foundations, and government grants.

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