She may only be at KidsCare for a few hours a day, but Erika Leisure is a familiar face throughout the day for many kids at the Orchard View Elementary School site.
Leisure spends her day working as a paraprofessional at the school. When the final bell rings, she heads down the hall to spend time at KidsCare.
“Obviously, I love being around kids. I think it’s great to interact with kids from all the schools. It’s fun for them to see someone they interact with every day out in the community,” she said.
Leisure said she loves the time she spends with KidsCare because it makes her life fun.
“It’s totally different. During the day, my classroom has eight students. It’s more of a one-on-one experience. When I get here, it’s an explosion of fun chaos. I get to play group games and have dance parties. It’s a different way of connecting with the kids than I can during the day,” she said.
Leisure said they work hard to know a little about each child such as their hobbies, what activities they’re involved in and whose classroom they’re in, so the kids know the team cares about them and are connected to them. Her own daughter is part of the afternoon program.
“My daughter came with me here after school. She’s been able to make friends with kids from her school and other schools and in different age groups,” Leisure said.
She said since the kids from different elementary schools all come together at some point in their school journey, the KidsCare program allows them to create a friend base before they transition to Heritage Intermediate School. Leisure also likes the fact that she can connect with Orchard View kids throughout the day.
“I can bring something special to the program because I’m here during the day and then they see me after school. They like having a friendly face throughout the day. Because we’re a smaller location, it gives the kids a chance to bond in a different way,” she said.
Leisure said the team works hard to make sure children know the staff care about them.
“When I can see that something I’ve done or said has made a difference, that’s really special to me,” she said.
Since her kids have been involved in both KidsCare and Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County, she knows the impact of the programs.
“To be a part of KidsCare now allows me to make a difference for other families like the staff has done for my family over the years.”