By Joseph Costa, Atlantic News Staff Writer
Atlantic News, Thursday, March 25, 1999
[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News.]
[Atlantic News Photo by McGee]
HAMPTON -- Say you have moved into town and you're looking for an after school program. Or, perhaps your boss just switched you to second shift hours and you don't know who will be able to watch your child. Well, look no further than Hampton, and the FUN After School Program.
Located at 40 Stickney Terrace off Route 1 in Hampton, the FUN program has a daycare-type atmosphere designed for children ranging in ages from 5-14. The school first opened its doors in September of 1992 and is run by co-owners Lori Sanderson and Mary Hollis.
"We first came up with the idea when, one summer, the YMCA was all filled up and there was no place to put our kids. That's when the lightbulb went off," says Hollis. "The money to open the school came right out of our pocketbooks and we worked with no income the whole first year."
The school received state approval and was solidly supported by the First Congregational Church of Hampton.
"The church was very helpful and supportive in all of our efforts," says Hollis. The program has five full time staff members and six part time staff. They also get a helping hand after school from some of the older high school students.
"By law, we're required to have one qualified staff member per 15 children, and the high school kids really help out. They show lots of youth and energy," says Hollis. The school is open year round, closing on federal holidays. The program is not limited to Hampton residents, and in the summer, it is open virtually to anyone.
"The younger children arrive and stay until their school starts, where the older children arrive around 3 o'clock after their regular school ends, Hollis says. "Most usually stay right up until 6 p.m."
There are many different activities offered for the children to participate in, such as arts and crafts, board games, a computer room for the older kids to do their homework on, along with many offered field trips.
"During the summer, we like to take the children down to the park or over to the beach," Hollis says. "Just last winter, we took the younger children over to Cedarland in Haverhill, and they got a kick out of being able to swim in the water."
Some parents may be concerned in regards to what their children are doing during the day, but that shouldn't be an issue.
"There's an open door policy where parents can walk in at anytime they please. In fact, we urge the parents to try and get involved as much as possible, for the kids find it so special to have their parents involved," says Hollis. "One of the parents' biggest fear is that we do not separate the children but that has never been an issue. The children seem to find their own paths. We don't make them do anything they don't want to do. It's entirely their choice."
The program has just received an expanding license, enabling it to make more room. This will allow for more children. They have also purchased a 15-passenger van which assists in trips and in local transportation.
With the purchase of the van, we have the capacity of picking up children directly at their schools. This makes us a whole lot more flexible," says Hollis, who adds, "Looking back, it's funny to see that one of our very first students now is a member. This is a very safe and honest program and we've been lucky to have been able to deal with some of the nicest parents and children on the Seacoast."
For more information on rates and hours at FUN, please contact either Lori Sanderson or Mary Hollis at 929-4466 (in 1999).