4 FREE Programs Benefit Youth In The Blackstone Valley
(Educational, Recreational, and Academic Programming)
The Whitin Community Center works in partnership with our community to offer a free Youth Outreach Program to children Grades 2 – 8. The program strives to inspire youth by establishing a true commitment to character, positive attitude, and a sense of purpose through 5 primary ideals: Education, Personal Well-being, Recreation, Creativity, and Meaningful Relationships.
The mission of the Youth Outreach Program is to encourage children, grades 2-8, from all socio-economic backgrounds to play together, develop friendships, build self-worth, develop a sense of fair play, team spirit and cooperation in a safe and supervised environment through 4 free programs including RYC, The Mentoring Partnership, Saturday Afternoon Fitness & Fun & Summer Youth Theatre.
Rockdale Youth Center
Physical Location: 57 Church Avenue, Northbridge MA 01534
Mailing Address: 60 Main Street, Whitinsville, MA 01588
Hours: Monday through Friday — 2:30-6:00 pm
There are exceptions to the hours of operation during certain holidays, half-days of school, and school cancellations.
To promote personal well-being, consideration and respect for all others, and care for the environment and community by teaching interpersonal, self-care, and home-care skills daily.
To promote creativity and recreation each day through supervised and organized activities and games.
To support the education of children, and help them identify their academic goals.
“The WCC Rockdale Youth Center is a valuable partner in the community, with the Northbridge Police Department, in helping to reduce juvenile crime and improve the quality of life for our citizens. Beyond mere data, the WCC Rockdale Youth Center provides a service that cannot be quantified by statistics in that it helps to guide and direct young people into making the proper choices about their lives.”
The Mentoring Partnership
Being part of a mentoring program can make an important difference in a child’s life. Research shows that young people involved in mentoring programs increase their chances of high school graduation and college attendance, and decrease likelihood of substance abuse and other risky behaviors. Think back to your own life, chances are there was a caring adult role model that helped to shape your future. Can you imagine your life without those role models? That is why mentoring is so important.
The Mentoring Partnership strives to assist youth as they navigate their way through the many life challenges and choices presented to them, and to offer a sense of empowerment with each success they achieve.
All children have the potential to succeed in life and contribute to society. However, not all children get the support they need to thrive. Consider the many benefits mentoring offers, including:
Keeping young people in school
Helping improve academic skills
Leading young people to resources they might not find on their own
Providing support for new behaviors, attitudes and ambitions
Increasing young people's ability to seek and keep jobs
Enhancing parenting skills
Participation in the Mentoring Partnership is available to students currently attending the Rockdale Youth Center.
We are seeking High School students interested in becoming mentors, to assist and support Elementary & Middle School youth develop skills that are useful for personal achievement and goal setting in the classroom, at home, and with athletic or scholarly pursuits. Potential Mentors from surrounding and neighboring High Schools are encouraged to apply. This commitment does serve as community service and a letter will be provided.
Mentors go by many names and they all have one thing in common—they care. If you have a sincere interest in the success of our youth and a caring attitude, you are perfect! Our mentoring program will provide you with the support and knowledge you need to have a successful relationship with your mentee.
Mentoring doesn’t just affect the young person. Mentoring is a shared opportunity for learning and growth. Many mentors say that the rewards they gain are as substantial as those for their mentees. Being a mentor enables you to:
- Have fun
- Achieve personal growth, learn more about yourself
- Improve your self-esteem and know you are making a difference
- Gain a better understanding of other cultures and a greater appreciation for diversity
- Feel more productive and have a better attitude at work
- Enhance your relationships with your own children
- Both Mentors and Mentees complete an application.
- Mentors commit to meet with mentees at least once a month for a minimum of 6 months.
- Mentors are carefully screened through CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) and SORI (Sex Offender) background checks.
- Matches are carefully selected and reviewed with the active involvement of families, youth, the mentor, and the WCC Youth Outreach Director.
- Resource assistance is available to families and mentors.
“It really does take a village to raise a child, according to Denise F. of Northbridge, an Uxbridge insurance agency owner, certified teacher and a volunteer mentor in the Northbridge Mentoring Partnership. Every Saturday for the past seven years, Ms. Forgit has included Shannon B., now 13 years old, in her family’s activities, whether it was going to a movie or a museum, fishing, seeing Santa Claus, or just getting ice cream at Friendly’s. Marlene B., Shannon’s grandmother, said, ‘It helped to have somebody else (for Shannon) to talk to. It opened her up. The girls didn’t have a mother to do things with; and I’m older and couldn’t do things that Denise can.’ I think I’m getting more out of it than I’m actually giving.”
Summer Youth Theatre
The WCC’s Summer Youth Theatre program is an 8 week program providing youth ages 5-17 with the exciting opportunity to learn about the theatre arts. Registration ends in early April and the annual season begins in May and ends at the end of July. Annual productions are presented at Valley Cast’s GB and Lexi Singh Performance Center located at Open Sky in Whitinsville and showcase the many talents of several young actors from Mendon, Douglas, Northbridge & Uxbridge. Registration to participate in this program begins in January and ends the second week of April each year. The theatre schedule itself runs from the end of May through the 3rd week of July each year.
The program is designed to expose participants to:
“Summer theatre is a wonderful program. I feel that it truly enhances young actors. I return every year because the staff is tremendous and dedicated fully to the actors/actresses and the program is also a great way to make new friends! I joined summer theatre when its first started during the summer of 2004. It is a learning experience, and a feeling of success and self-confidence are always present.”
Saturday Morning Fitness & Fun (Fall-Spring)
“The Whitin Community Center is important to me because it is a place to play sports and go swimming, and a place to go on Saturdays from 1:00pm to 3:30pm, and do arts and crafts and go swimming. It’s just a place to have fun.”
History Of Youth Outreach Program
Through the Whitin Community Center, we are committed to enhancing the health and well-being of individuals and families and building a strong community in the Blackstone Valley. We offer social, recreational, educational, and outreach programs that bring community members of all ages and backgrounds together.
In 1996, in a concerted effort to provide the benefit of a free, weekly recreational program to all interested children, the WCC created the first Youth Outreach program, Saturday Outreach. Each Saturday afternoon, children Grades 2 – 8, are welcomed into the gymnasium and are encouraged to participate in recreational, and/or non-traditional educational activities, such as arts and crafts projects, as well as a recreational swim.
The mission of the Youth Outreach Program is to encourage children from all socio-economic backgrounds to play together, develop friendships and to develop a sense of fair play, team spirit, and cooperation in a safe and supervised environment. The vision of the Youth Outreach Program is to provide these fundamental opportunities to disadvantaged youth in the Blackstone Valley and Southern Worcester County, ultimately strengthening communities, one individual and one family at a time, by focusing on the five core values that are education, personal well-being, meaningful relationships, creativity, and recreation.
In 1999, the Youth Outreach Program was expanded to offer the WCC Summer Youth Theater Program. The WCC’s Summer Youth Theatre program exposes participants ages 8-17 to the theater arts, from beginning to end. The objective of this free, eight-week intensive, mini-program is to provide children from any town in the Blackstone Valley with an exciting opportunity to learn about the theater arts. The program is designed to expose children to the theatrical arts from all aspects, from acting to choreography, to promotion and set design. Each child who participates has to agree to the rehearsal schedule, as well as a behavioral contract. It is the hope of the Whitin Community Center, and the Outreach Program, that by providing this unique opportunity to explore the theatrical arts, all participating children may grow personally, not only in self-confidence, but that they may also develop artistically, and socially while learning from positive role models. Prior theatre experience is not a requirement, and we enthusiastically invite newcomers.
In 2001, the WCC Outreach program opened the Rockdale Youth Center (RYC)- located at 57 Church Ave in Northbridge, MA, that provides children, Grades 2 – 8, with a myriad of activities after school, including academic assistance, community engagement, Kid Kit, the Mentoring Partnership and more, all free of charge. The center is open from 2:30-6:00 PM Monday – Friday, subject to schedule changes related to 1/2 days, holidays, and vacation times.
The Whitin Community Center’s RYC is designed to provide children with the opportunity for structure in a non-traditional educational setting, as an appropriate alternative to the children going to an empty home after the school day ends. The Rockdale Youth Center provides positive role models, and opportunities for leadership development through the creation and implementation of RYC related projects. The Rockdale Youth Center affords youth the opportunity to raise their self-esteem, to further develop appropriate social skills, including the opportunity to broaden their social network. The RYC aims to create and foster the ability to make healthy living choices via the provision of dietary education, exercise skills and practice, money management education, and the supported development of coping skills.
In 2007, the Youth Outreach Program acquired ownership of the Northbridge Mentoring Partnership. The Mentoring Program serves at-risk children from the Blackstone Valley by providing them with a Mentor. Through a screening process, along with referrals, mentors and mentees are matched for partnership. The mentor plans various activities for he or she, and the student mentee to enjoy together (mini-golf, movies, crafts). Mentors also help with homework and other academic challenges. As a condition of their enrollment, all mentors and mentees are screened before they are matched. Each prospective Mentor is screened using the Massachusetts State Criminal Offender Record Identification, as well as Sex Offender Record Identification systems. The Mentoring Program was started in 1997 and has served over 200 children since its inception.