(Photo by Carlos Campos)

WATSONVILLE — F.L.Y.E.R.S (Fun Loving Youth En Route to Success) is the City of Watsonville’s own after-school program, created from need and housed downtown through the Parks and Community Services Department.

According to the program’s founder, Imelda Negrete, “There was a need in the community because the school district’s after-school program was filled, and the families on the waiting list were desperate for help.”

At the time, Negrete was the coordinator for Ramsay Park and had been approached by parents for help. The program began small, with only one or two children, but it has grown to serve two dozen children and is now held in downtown Watsonville.

The current program coordinator, Geno Bragado, says that “children who don’t normally click together in school will find long-lasting friendships in the program.”

Because the new location is centrally located, participants have the opportunity to use everything Watsonville has to offer: parks, the youth center, farmer’s market and the library.

Mindy Esqueda, a program participant’s mother, said that F.L.Y.E.R.S is “the best program, homework help is fantastic, snacks, activities and safe transportation is included.”

According to the National After-school Alliance, one in two children participating in community learning centers improved their math and language skills, two in three improved their homework completion and class participation, and three in five improved their behavior in class.

The F.L.Y.E.R.S program costs $165 per month — this includes transportation from school and snacks. There are a few spots left for this school year. For information, call the Parks and Community Services Department at 768-3240.

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