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After-school program seeks home in city
Seven-year-old Trevon Pinkney picks up a small, green dinosaur toy.

"This one is a stegosaurus," he said holding the figurine in the air.

His instructor Laverta Ekrok pulls his attention back to the day's homework.

"He loves dinosaurs," Ekrok said. "I tell him he should be a paleontologist."

Trevon is one of the nearly 35 students who participate in the after-school program Youth Enrichment and Deliverance Center, 2401 Norwich St.

The program was started when Executive Director Patricia Brown saw the need to help students succeed academically.

She says that need is bigger than ever.

That's why Brown is asking the city of Brunswick to help her expand the program by giving her access to the Roosevelt Lawrence Community Center on H Street. The recreation center would serve as a secondary program allowing Brown's organization to reach more children.

Brown asked the city commission for permission to use the site free of charge, for at least the first year, at Wednesday's commission meeting. Commissioners responded favorably, and Brown is planning a meeting with City Manager Bill Weeks to work out the logistics of the operation.

She says academic drivers that will keep city youth in school and encourage post secondary learning are important for the city's future success.

"In order for our children to be successful in society, they have to be academically sound," Brown said.

The center has a 90 percent success rate for students that take the Criterion Referenced Competency Tests, commonly called CRCT, that are used to assess the progress of students from third- through eighth-grade.

Brown says it's because the program's staff work to narrow down the trouble areas and follow school curricula. Instructors meet with teachers to discuss student progress, and parental involvement is required.

She wants to fill a gap left in the city following the closing of some programs.

The center was originally included under Weed and Seed, a federal effort designed to "weed out" crime and "seed" community activities to keep it from returning.

Weed and Seed has since been discontinued but that doesn't mean Brown is giving up.

"We are still trying to keep alive the concepts of the Weed and Seed," Brown said.

But Brown says her program isn't a day care center. It's for students that want to better themselves and create a lifelong habit of learning.

"I see children graduate, but after they graduate, what do they do? I don't think there's a high population getting a college education, secondary education or even...vocational education," Brown said. "If they get in their minds early that education is important, it will be with them throughout their lives."

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