Youth Programs and Activities

We offer a series of programs for the children of Mercy Center’s families, presenting them with alternatives to the violence and negativity to which they are often subjected. These activities address the needs of children for a safe environment and provide an opportunity to advance their creative and educational potential through individual assistance and group activities.

Current Programs Include:

After School Program – We offer the children of Mercy Center families a safe place to continue learning and flourishing in our After School. With caring, responsible adults and engaging activities, we connect each child to her/his school, family and community. We provide homework help and educational opportunities that foster creative ways to learn and have fun!  In addition, we offer enrichment activities such as robotics, coding, dance, chorus, knitting/crocheting, arts and crafts, and games. Open to children of Mercy Center adult participants.

Robotics – Children in grades 2-7 are offered robotics/coding classes twice a week with an external STEM consultant, Bricks4Kidz, introducing them to basic concepts of computer science, programming, and engineering. They are developing critical problem-solving and design skills while using codes to build video games, music videos, and machines that are programmed to move. Open to children in Mercy Center After School.


Coding – The flexibility of our STEM consultant, Bricks4Kidz, has allowed us to pivot from in-person robotics to on-line coding classes during the pandemic for our children in grades 2-3 and 4-7. Grades 2-3 - children work on developing critical problem-solving and design skills while building video games with multiple levels, creating animations of their own characters, building simulations and more using a visual block-based program. Grades 4-7 - children work on actual code. In a game-based environment, they type out code that controls the characters. Children are introduced to Python, HTML, CSS and Javascript. Open to children in Mercy Center After School.


Dance – House of the Roses (HOTR), a volunteer dance company, offers our children in grades K-6 an opportunity to experience the magic of creative self-expression through dance. Open to children in Mercy Center After School.

Chorus – Children in grades K-3 are offered weekly chorus classes where an interest and love for singing is introduced and developed. Open to children in Mercy Center After School.

Knitting/Crocheting – Children in grades 2-7 have the choice to join weekly classes in knitting and crocheting. Developing fine motor skills helps children to "unwind from the day" and, research shows, impacts their ability to critically think, problem-solve, and perform reading and math. Open to children in Mercy Center After School.


Youth Programs staff, L to R: Marianne Sheridan, Manager of Youth Programs, Mauricio Hernandez, Susan Donnelly, Fabiola Benitez, Maria Hernandez

Saturday Reading Enrichment (SRE) – Trained high school, college, and adult volunteers provide one-on-one reading support to children in grades K-5, who score in the lower percentile in reading. Priority given to children of Mercy Center adult participants. 


Summer Day Camp – We offer a 4-week Summer Camp during the month of July, offering our children a safe environment to learn and have fun! Each summer, a different theme is chosen to allow children to "explore the world around them." Our camp is designed to offer hands-on learning through academic instruction, recreational activities, and educational, fun field trips! Through these, children develop skills in teamwork, leadership and responsibility. A limited number of spots are available each summer to children of Mercy Center adult participants.

Fiver Children's Foundation Partnership – The Fiver Children's Foundation offers boys and girls from underserved communities the opportunity to attend a two-week tuition-free camp each summer at a rural upstate site. Fiver begins a ten-year commitment to families when children are in third grade, and also provides enrichment activities throughout the year. Designated as a local partner in 2003, a limited number of spots are available to children in Mercy Center Youth Programs each year.

Impact of COVID-19

When the pandemic changed life as we know it, Mercy Center's Youth team continued to offer children the same opportunities virtually that we offered in-person. We provided homework help remotely to over 60 After School children, as well as dance, arts and crafts, games and field trips. We have also added a Reading Group for grades 1-2 and, instead of in-person robotics, we offer an on-line coding class for grades 2-3 and grades 4-7. As public health guidelines have allowed, we have added socially distanced in-person tutoring, activities, and celebrations.