Youth 360

Youth 360 is offering free spring and summer activities to Wasilla Middle, Wasilla High, and Houston Junior Senior High Schools.

WASILLA — Youth 360 is offering free spring and summer activities to Wasilla Middle, Wasilla High, and Houston Junior Senior High Schools.

In addition to their normal programs, Youth 360 recently launched a new stipend program, covering costs for approved community based activities as an effort to broaden their overall range of activities based on student interest while fostering their personal growth through these local connections.

“The idea being every student can benefit from something positive and constructive to do in the community,” Youth 360 director Tyler Healy said.

According to Healy, Youth 360 is partnering with local businesses, groups and organizations who facilitate a broad range of activities. He said students can gain valuable life experience and skills from supportive adults.

He said the ability for students to choose activities that suit their interests and continued involvement from the community helps Youth 360 reach kids where they’re at, further expanding their efforts building youth resiliency.

“The mission is to provide activities and opportunities to help youth and families thrive,” Healy said.

United Way of Mat-Su oversees the Youth 360 program, a local effort aiming to improve Valley students’ overall health and wellness by connecting them to their peers, families, and the community at large through fun and engaging activities that foster meaningful connections.

Healy said that the spring and summer catalogues are out and families can fill out forms based on their children’s interests on their website. He said that families can sign up at any time and summer activities begin in June.

Youth 360 summer camps will have everything from football and backpacking trips to cooking dance classes, offering at a wider variety thanks to community partners in their new stipend program.

Healy noted that they’ll continue to expand the program in the fall and continue growing it from there, believing that keeping kids busy in the summer time helps them form meaningful relationships and avoid negative influence and substance abuse.

“It’s huge... We know that kids that are connected to their community and say they’re connected to their community are much more likely to have positive outcomes… To let ‘em know that there’s adults in the wider community that care about them and have fun stuff coming out for them,” Healy said.

Healy said that Youth 360 believes that every young person needs connections with others and access to activities. Houston and Wasilla are their pilot sites, currently offering free after school activities for middle and high school students year round with the intent of spreading across the school district over time.

“Especially after coming out of a super challenging school year where some activities were impacted and restricted in some ways, it’s a good time for folks to get out there, stay active, meet new people, and get connected,” Healy said. “We’ve got some good momentum going… I think there’s kind of a growing recognition of the importance for everybody to stay involved and support our teens.”

For more information, call 907-373-3613 or visit youth-360.org.

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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