Salvation Army After-School Program Fills Gap in Springhill Community

by Maritime
Categories: 2021, News Archive

Every Monday, more than 30 students from the town of Springhill, Nova Scotia, gather at The Salvation Army community church to take part in their after-school program, which is the only one of its kind in the small community of just 2,700. 

“We started this program three years ago when she realized there wasn’t an after-school program available in our community,” explains Captain Rosalyn Toynton. “We are located between the high school and elementary schools, so it’s ideal for the kids to walk over after their classes.”

“They really enjoy this time”

Captains Rosalyn and Steve Toynton designed the after-school program to be a safe place for children and youth to socialize with their friends and take part in activities. 

“We start every week the same. They come in, wash their hands and we take attendance before we begin,” she explains. “When a child comes five weeks in a row, they can pick a surprise from our treasure chest. We started this to encourage them to come back and they really love it.”

Once attendance is finished, the children and youth are given a snack and time to socialize with their friends, which has become an important part for all those who attend.

“They really enjoy the free time at the beginning of the program to wind-down,” Captain Steve explains. “The kids don’t often get to socialize as much as they like in school, so they really enjoy this time as they eat their snacks. Some even use this time to start their homework.”

The children and youth then take part in an activity arranged by the Toynton’s. With anywhere from 30 – 40 showing up each week, they make sure they are fit for all ages.

“We have all types of activities,” he explains. “From ring toss and bean bag toss, to crafts and colouring contests, we try to offer things that the kids are really interested in.”

“The after-school program is their happy place”

For some, the after-school program is more than just a fun place to spend time with their friends, it’s a place where they feel safe and a sense of belonging.

“One child started coming when he was just in grade 6,” Captain Roslyn explains. “Overtime he opened up and shared with us that he doesn’t enjoy going to school because he is often picked on, but he loves coming here. He’s not the only one who has expressed this either. It’s their happy place.” 

While new provincial health and safety guidelines may have altered their regular schedule, the Toyton’s look forward to resuming the program in the near future.

“These programs are so important in small communities. They really make a difference for so many kids.”