“Whatever we do here has to be ‘cool’ (for lack of a better term) for the students to get involved and stay involved.”
Harlowton Advantage Program for Youth
Harlowton Advantage Program for Youth (H.A.P.Y.) is a 21st Century Community Learning Center afterschool program that offers tutoring and homework assistance to more than 120 junior high and high school students in Wheatland County.
The program offers a variety of activities such as a study hall for homework help and a mentoring program where the high school students mentor elementary students. Students at H.A.P.Y. particularly enjoy the Chill Zone, which features computers, cable television, movies, video games, foosball, a pool table, air hockey, darts, and a jukebox. “It gives students a safe and socially acceptable place to ‘hang out,’” says Kim Misner, the grant coordinator of H.A.P.Y.
Last year H.A.P.Y. held town hall meetings for the community. More than 200 youth and adults participated, as well as Chill Zone staff, librarian specialists, and representatives from the school and community. Funding was provided by a grant from the program’s alcohol prevention specialist. For Misner, the biggest challenges are sustaining the students’ attention and keeping up with current trends. "Whatever we do here has to be ‘cool’ (for lack of a better term) for the students to get involved and stay involved," says Misner. "We have to keep up with their quickly changing interests and let them know they have a voice, even when we don’t accomplish exactly what they want. We let them know that we care and are interested in their views."