A new Fremont after-school youth center plans to give students an opportunity to healthily connect with others in the community.
Aspire for Greatness will open to children from fifth grade to age 19 in Good Shepard Lutheran Church’s gym at its southwest corner at 1544 E. Military Ave.
“We just want there to be an opportunity for those youth to have a place where they can work on homework and have adults just help them, where they can play games, where they can build a sense of community with each other, as well as provide them with food,” said Kristen Widman, marketing and public relations director for Aspire.
The program will start with a kickoff open house 4-7 p.m. Sept. 7 before starting operations the next day. The event will allow for attendees to learn more about and sign up for the program, whether they’re participating or volunteering.
Aspire will run 3-6 p.m. on school days until May 20 for this school year. The program will follow Fremont Public Schools’ schedule, as it will not operate on days with no class.
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Widman said the program was founded by Dave Hahn, who was previously a volunteer at the Hope Center-Fremont.
“When they closed their doors, he kind of felt a passion to start this back up again so that that need was being met in our community,” she said. “He saw a lot of positive impact from the Hope Center on the youth in the community, and he wanted to make sure that that void was filled.”
Hahn, Widman and a mutual friend then began meeting in 2020 and came up with ideas on how to make Aspire work to provide youth with a safe and encouraging environment.
“And as we know, last year was a crazy year,” she said. “So we took a few steps forward, a few steps back and just worked really hard to get this pulled together.”
Aspire will give youth a chance to experience intentional mentoring, character building through Biblical truth, structured homework time, physical activity, games, field trips, skill-building, career readiness and daily snacks and meals.
“We know that food insecurity is an issue all across the United States, as well as in our own community,” Widman said. “So we want to provide them with some food to make sure that they are not going hungry.”
Youth will also be exposed to clubs and activities, as Nebraska Extension will offer a monthly nutrition class, as well as “Marathon Kids.”
“We will also have a photography club, an arts and crafts club and a 4-H club,” Widman said. “And then in the spring, we will add a gardening club to that as well.”
Even with the limited public awareness so far, Widman said several students have already signed up for Aspire.
“There seems to be a clear need in the community for this,” she said. “So we have parents and guardians who are excited that this will be an option.”
Ultimately, Widman said she wants Aspire to instill a sense of self-worth in the participating youth.
“These kids have so much more pressure put on top of them than we had,” she said. “And so I just want them to feel that they are known and that they are worthy and that they know what skills they have and that they’re able to build on those in these years and feel like they’re able to accomplish life.”
For more information on Aspire and to find forms to sign up, visit aspirefremont.org.
“We are just really excited to be a part of the Fremont community and look forward to working with not only these youth,” Widman said, “but other members in the community as well to reach these common goals.”