By: Contributing Writer, Abby Ridgel
On February 22nd, Centralia SMART (Students and Mentors Achieving Responsibility Together) Program traveled to the State Capitol to attend the Show Me Afterschool Day.
SMART was invited by the Missouri Afterschool Network to attend the event.
The SMART Program is a non profit afterschool program that started in 2015. The program offers help with homework, enrichment clubs, field trips and to give kids a safe place to go after school. Lisa Matthiesen is the current SMART Program Director who works closely with other teachers who assist with the program
The program puts on many activities including service learning projects to help the community. Some of the activities SMART participates in are wrapping presents for community members at Christmas, being present as Young Entrepreneurs at Second Saturday, visiting nursing homes, making snacks for veterans and making treat bags during teacher appreciation week.
While at the State Capitol, members of the SMART Program had the opportunity to sit down with Senator Caleb Rowden, Representative Cheri Toalson Reisch and Representative Kent Haden. They were able to talk about what they do at the SMART Program and how important after school programs and the funding of them are. The students were also able to sit in the House of Representatives and the Senate galleries during general sessions. Lastly, the students also got to tour the State Capitol.
Matthiesen attended this event last year and thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for students. This year was the first year she was able to bring the SMART youth with her. Matthiesen said, “ I want students to know they have a voice and can educate policy makers about how after school programs benefit youth, families and communities.”