S60 3If you’ve been following our social media posts lately (on Facebook and Twitter, in particular), you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been talking up Giving Tuesday – the Tuesday after Thanksgiving when you’re encouraged to donate to nonprofits or others that are working to make a positive difference in the world.

Yes, it’s true, AYS is a nonprofit!

That’s still surprising to some, but we do rely on contributions from people like you to ensure that we’re able to continue to provide high-quality before- and after-school care to children in Central Indiana.
Earlier this year, for example, we held our biggest fundraiser of the year – our Lights On Luncheon: A Celebration of Afterschool, presented by Teachers Credit Union. The event brought together 180 people to celebrate the importance of out-of-school time programs and raised over $24,000 for the Ellen Clippinger Financial Assistance Fund.

To put that in perspective, an additional $24,000 means 41 more children will be able to enjoy a healthy snack, get help with their homework and participate in fun and enriching activities after school for a semester. We are so grateful to all who made our Lights On event a success, especially our generous sponsors.

So, yes, Giving Tuesday and other fundraising opportunities are important to nonprofits like ours. Your gifts to AYS mean safer, more engaged, happier kids who are ready to achieve more in school and in life – as well as peace of mind for parents who need our services.

We hope you’ll keep AYS in mind tomorrow. This #GivingTuesday, you can make a contribution that will make a direct impact on children’s lives.

Want to get a head start?  Donate here now!

AS-WeekWho: Donniece Harris, program director at Promise Road Elementary

When: 1 year in August

Favorite color: My favorite color has always been purple. I feel like it is the most vibrant color of the rainbow!

Favorite season: Spring—I love the spring weather. My birthday is also in the spring. So, that’s another reason why it’s my favorite.

Favorite ice cream: Any and every flavor of chocolate, but dark chocolate is probably my favorite.


Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of working with AYS?

A: The most rewarding part of working with AYS is seeing the kids learn and grow. I love being able to teach the kids different things and watch them become more independent.

Q: How have you seen yourself grow during your time with AYS?

A: I feel more confident in myself, especially with my decision making. I am still learning every day and I try not to dwell on my mistakes but instead learn from them and keep moving forward.

Q: What is the most memorable story during your time at AYS?

A: I’ve got a few memorable stories. One of the most memorable would have to be our V-day/B-day bash. In February, my staff and I had a combined birthday party for two of my assistants and a Valentine’s Day party. It was our first big celebration. All the staff really stepped up and contributed with the preparation and facilitating the activities. I especially enjoyed watching the kids have fun with all the games and working together during the team games! My kids were also able to surprise both assistants with a giant birthday card that they all signed. Overall, it was just very exciting to see everyone happy and having fun. I felt like all the work from myself, the staff, and the kids helped it become successful.


Center for Inquiry School 84 & Sidener Academy

Over spring break, our IPS camps at Center for Inquiry School 84 and Sidener Academy took advantage of a couple days of nice weather.

Students spent most their time outside on the playground. A group of girls at CFI developed their own dance team, showing the directors a couple moves. They took a brief break for science experiment—mixing acetone and Styrofoam cups to create putty.

Later, the students went back outside and created a banner to denote their time at the camp. Most wrote their names, while a couple—including one of our program directors, Coltin Metzger—slapped on a colorful handprint.

Before going inside, the camp director Kelle Rogers, had the students rattle off a few chants to show their love for AYS:

“From east to west, AYS is the best! From north to south, AYS rocks the house!”



Campers and director Coltin Metzger make their mark on AYS.

Fox Hill Elementary & John Strange Elementary

Fox Hill and John Strange began their spring breaks the next week—March 27 and March 28, respectively. While the weather did not hold up quite as well for them, campers did not let a little rain get them down.

The students took advantage of craft time—making canvas art, beaded bracelets, sock penguins and speakers. Campers at Fox Hill also weaved coasters to take home to their parents.

If you go to John Strange Elementary over spring break, the kids will teach you a thing or two about card games. Students not only did crafts, they played War, Trash and Egyptian Slap Jack.

Using a paper plate, yarn and scissors, a student learns weaving techniques.

Campers stuff black socks to create the perfect, plush penguin.

You only need two plastic cups, tape and old paper towel rolls to make these high-tech inventions.

Frank H. Wheeler Elementary School

Speedway’s Wheeler Elementary brought in Theon Lee—a poet and spoken word artist and member of Indy Pulse. The nonprofit organization uses spoken word to educate youth, and help empower them to develop their own voice.

After setting up and plugging in his gear—a microphone and a couple speakers—he asked the question, “Who here knows what beat boxing is?” Some hands flew up, and he brought up three kids. Hovering his hand over the three students, he made a different sound for each. Almost as if he were drumming on the air above their heads, he created an ongoing beat that had the children laughing and awestruck.

He then started explaining a game he calls, “Ones, Twos and Threes.” Each number is assigned a different sound.  The kids then developed teams, and had to remember what sound accompanied each number. So, Lee would write out a sequence— “2, 1, 1, 3”—and the kids would, as a team, beat box the line back to him.

Directors served as the judges. By the end of the game, the kids’ skills caused a three-way tie between all the teams.

beat boxing
Students gathered around as Theon Lee explained the rules of, “Ones, Twos and Threes.”

Between crafts, playgrounds and beat boxing, AYS campers took a break from school—but never took a break from learning something new.

To keep up on our programs, and see more photos and videos, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

As January comes to an end, I’m sure most people are tired of hearing about health and fitness. As everyone knows the New Year brings new resolutions, most of which involve getting healthier. This doesn’t have to be…. Here at Phalen Leadership Academy (PLA) AYS, the students and I are embarking on a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Each week we choose healthier snacks over processed, high-calorie snacks and focus on being active to stay fit.

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My main goal for the scholars here at PLA is to teach them that it is not about completely overhauling one’s life, but creating a healthy balance. Do we eat cookies sometimes? Yes!! Do we have chocolate candy sometimes? Yes!!! Do we always, everyday put our bodies through physical drills? NO! We find a balance.  What I have found here at PLA is that the students have started to crave the healthier snacks and look forward to our fun, wacky workouts.  After about a month it became routine in these young kids’ lives and now they are happy to be healthier and stronger!

                It’s never too late to change your life, and it doesn’t have to change all at once. Remember it is never about taking things away from your life but adding things.  Add one physical activity to your week this week. Add one more serving of veggies to your plate today. Encourage your friends and family to do the same and see what happens in a few months’ time!

By Christa Martini, AYS Program Director at Phalen Leadership Academy