KCK after-school program pairs kids and seniors together to improve math, reading skills

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- There’s a nonprofit in KCK that’s trying to bridge the generational gap between senior citizens and kids through tutoring.

Maria Sanchez-Chastain is the executive director at KC Urban C. The organization offers an after-school program where it pairs kindergartners through fifth-graders with seniors to help them with their homework.

“Partnering with the senior citizens works because when [the kids] come here, they know they are loved,” Sanchez-Chastain explained. “They know they can be themselves. They know there is always a helping hand out there.”

Sanchez-Chastain said she wanted seniors to be a part of their program because of the compassion, wisdom, talent and experience they bring to the table.

“A lot of our kids, either their grandparents are away in other countries or they don’t have grandparents, and we noticed that as soon as we started bringing senior citizens in to help that the connection was there right away,” she said.

Marjorie Thomas spends her days mentoring and tutoring the dozen or so children who are currently enrolled in the program. She’s one of a handful of seniors volunteering their time.

“I just love it. I really do,” Thomas said. “I can’t think of anything else that my time would be better doing than giving these kids a lift.”

The Monday-Thursday program rotates students through math, reading and art exercises – like pottery and theater. And it’s completely free thanks to local companies like Coba's Creation and Boddle, an educational gaming platform, that volunteers its equipment and services.

“Just seeing them starting to enjoy math and then starting to understand foundational concepts and seeing how that’s really impacting them as they’re growing, we knew we wanted to be a part of it,” said Edna Martinson, co-founder of Boddle.

For Thomas, who’s had several health issues in recent years, spending time with the kids has just as much of impact on her as she does on them.

“It’s a real legacy. These kids can really use the time,” she said. “This is a good reason for me to keep moving.”

KC Urban C gained its 501(c)(3) status in May. The organization is run entirely off donations and volunteers. If you would like to volunteer or contribute, click here.

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