As children and teens return to school, the Penobscot Bay YMCA encourages parents looking for safe, educational and fun activities outside the classroom to take advantage of its afterschool program.

Combining play with academics, the YMCA’s afterschool program fills gaps in schools and in the Midcoast area by offering enrichment through arts, music, physical education, sports and nutrition.

According to the Afterschool Alliance, 15.1 million children in the United States are left unsupervised after 3 p.m. In Maine alone, 33 percent of children are left alone — responsible for taking care of themselves.

“At the Pen Bay YMCA, we are committed to nurturing the potential of every child and teen,” said Jen Curtis, Youth & Family Director.“Our afterschool programs are not just about an extended day of work and activities, it’s about giving youth an extra support system that encourages them to achieve success.”

After school programming at the Y is a healthy way for children and teens to stay active and productive when the school day ends. Youth in the Pen Bay YMCA’s afterschool program receive: homework assistance and can engage in afterschool activities, such as arts, music, sports, nutrition, dance, etc. The Teen Center, an outreach after school program located on 10 Knowlton Street in Camden provides an environment for youth in grades five through 12. Youth and teens can engage in afterschool activities, such as homework assistance arts, music, dance, skateboarding, etc.

Curtis says that attending afterschool programs can have many lasting positive effects on youth, including helping children and teens develop interpersonal and social skills, perform well academically, and develop habits that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement.

As one of the leading providers of after school programs, the nation’s Y’s have been engaging children in after school programs for more than 50 years. Today, Y’s impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of youth in after school programs at nearly 10,000 sites across the country. After school programming at the Y focuses on the holistic development of youth, promoting creativity, a love for learning, academic success and friendship and character building. Financial assistance is available to those in need, to ensure every child and teen has the opportunity to learn and grow at the Y.

For more information about the Penobscot Bay YMCA’s after school program, please contact Jen Curtis, Youth & Family Services Director, at 236.3375 or jcurtis@penbayymca.org.