I Am My Brother’s Keeper is an afterschool program at Auburn’s Frank Brown Recreation Center that educates kids and keeps them busy while their parents are at work.
“After going to afterschool programs, the research indicates that 68% of students improve their homework completion and class participation, that 60% of the students improve their behavior in class, that one in two students improves math and reading grades, and we know that there is a big focus right now on math, reading and science,” said Trellis Smith, director of the program.
The program, which runs from 4-8 p.m., also promotes theater, dance and art, along with physical fitness and nutrition. The students also are fed and take the occasional field trip.
Smith stressed that I Am My Brother’s Keeper helps parents as much as their children.
“Some people may say that ‘well, we have some programs’ but I would like to argue that although we may have some afterschool programs, I don’t believe we have enough,” she said. “I don’t believe that we have enough to meet the needs of the children in our community.”
The group has 25 students enrolled, which is five down from last year, Smith said. One of the major challenges that I Am My Brother’s Keeper faces, she said, is lack of transportation.
They do not have the means to transport children from schools in Opelika and Auburn to the center, where the study group meets.
There are strong points, too, like help from Auburn University. Students across different majors come to spend time with the children and help them with their homework in the afternoons.
Junior high and high school students also come to work with the grade schoolers on the different art projects, dance routines and productions.
“I have been a part of IAMBK of 11 years now and I have been a part of dance for five years,” said Auburn High School senior Caleb Williams. “I am exposed to real world issues to be successful in any career path I choose to take in order to excel. Here at IAMBK I have made real friendships and relationships.”
Kaleigh Yancey, a junior at Auburn High School, has been with IAMBK for nine years and is a dancer with the group.
“I just really love how I Am My Brother’s Keeper treats you as family,” Yancey said.
JT Williams, a ninth-grader who said he was basically born into the program, even played some grassroots guitar for the audience.
Williams also was awarded the Student of the Month award.