November 17, 2012 in Washington Voices

A HUB for after-school fun

Program allows students to learn, expend energy
By The Spokesman-Review
 
Jesse Tinsley photoBuy this photo

Phil Champlin, center, helps eighth-grader Austin Finley, right, with algebra homework while eighth-grader Kadin Zimmerman, left, works on another assignment Tuesday, at the HUB, a community recreation center in Liberty Lake which has recently started an afterschool program for kids from Greenacres Middle School, hoping to expand it to other schools. Champlin is the HUB’s executive director.
(Full-size photo)

A group of middle-schoolers bounded through the doors of the HUB Sports Center after school Tuesday. They were laughing and joking and full of energy, but most of all, they were excited for their afternoon activities.

“We love dodgeball,” said Landon Strawn, a sixth-grader. “Dodgeball is the best.”

The students are all from Greenacres Middle School, not far from the HUB, and they’re there for the HUB 360 program.

HUB Executive Director Phil Champlin approached the school with the idea for an afterschool program that would help students with homework, and provide activities and guest speakers.

Since the beginning of the year, about 20 students have signed up, with a core group of 12 to 15 students showing up regularly. A bus takes the students from school to the HUB and parents pick them up at 6 p.m.

It’s free for the kids, but Champlin said the sports center has received financial support from Spokane Teachers Credit Union and Sunrise Rotary. Champlin is looking for both financial backers and volunteers to help expand the program.

The kids taking part on Tuesday said they love it. Strawn and his friends, Rocky Bigchild-Chatwin and Tristen Dillon, started the afternoon at a table with their homework and had a snack before the activities began.

Then a representative from Peak 7 Adventures, a nonprofit organization geared toward teens interested in outdoor activities, visited with the students.

Participants also have heard from the YMCA Youth in Government program; Boarders for Christ, a skateboarding ministry; and Warrior Camp Fitness. Representatives from Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream will be coming soon.

Speakers talk about character education and on Tuesday students broke into teams to create a flag and think about what they need to do to be good citizens of their team.

Program Coordinator Ty Pfundheller, a musician, spent an afternoon letting the kids play drums. He said the activities are different each time and it’s not all speakers and homework.

Students always get time for relay races, or to play dodgeball or volleyball.

“They’re getting their energy out,” he said.

The HUB 360 program is offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m., but Champlin wants to bring in more students and schools. He’d also like to improve the acoustics in the room – although there weren’t many students in the room Tuesday, it sounded like a crowd of 50.

Laura Hull, the assistant principal at Greenacres, said students are having so much fun they are recruiting friends to come with them.

“Obviously, our goal is to build the program,” she said, which doesn’t seem to be a problem now that kids have had a taste of it.

While school staff initially approached students about it, parents are now calling her.

“It seems to be going really well,” she said.

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