By Kim Heitzmann

The kids are back to school and will be soon busy with book reports, tests and homework—but academics are only one aspect of a balanced life. After school activities are a great way to have fun, make new friends, learn new skill and learn life lessons. Whether your child loves to act on stage, score a goal on the soccer field or paint a masterpiece, the Valley offers something for everyone. Here are a few local kids who are doing what they love.

“I have been part of the Glendale Peoria family YMCA for one year, ten months. My coach, Tony Lehn, says that he has seen a lot growth in my swimming since I became a part of the Glendale Piranhas swim team. I am so glad that Glendale YMCA has allowed me to grow as a swimmer and teaches me how to swim properly. The YMCA has taught me about the four core values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. These core values are going to help me in my daily life. I am glad to have Tony as my coach for the swim team. I know I will do well at the regional YMCA swim meet. Thank you Glendale YMCA for allowing me to swim on your team.”

Vincent, age 10 – Valley of the Sun YMCA Glendale


“I love being a Girl Scout because of the wonderful experiences, skills, and memories I gained since second grade. Being in Girl Scouts has given me the opportunity to serve my community, whether through doing a canned food drive or serving food at a homeless shelter. Camping is one of my favorite things to do with my Girl Scout family, not only because it’s fun, but you also because I learn many outdoor skills. I used to be very shy as a young girl and being a Girl Scout has built my confidence and courage. My troop leader has been a role model to me, and now I get to be a role model for the younger girls in my troop!”

Berth, age 15 – Girl Scouts, Phoenix Troop 1688


“I love ITSA [Immersive Teaching STEAM Academy]! It is the place to go if you want a career in computers, like I do. They have many courses to choose from. You can learn about 3D printing, 3D scanning and modeling, robotics, game development, Minecraft modding, virtual reality, and much more! My favorite one is game design and I like it because I can create anything I want.”

Jake, age 12 – Immersive Teaching STEAM Academy


“I chose art as my extracurricular activity mostly because I enjoy doing art and learning about art. I am grateful for what everyone has taught me at Carrie Curran Art Studios and especially how they have taught me to be a better artist! What I love about my art classes is that I feel happy when I am at the studio doing my art and I love when I am presenting my paintings to others.  My favorite art medium is painting with watercolors because I can put more detail in my artwork and mixing colors is easier.”

Aanika, age 10 – Carrie Curran Art Studio


“Gymnastics is my favorite after school activity! I love coming to Xtreme Gymnastics for so many different reasons! First of all, I love all of my teammates so much! They are some of the nicest people I have ever met, and I look forward to seeing them at gymnastics! All of the coaches at Xtreme Gymnastics are so knowledgeable and you can tell that they love to coach gymnastics. The gym is huge, and the best part is the big foam pit to flip into. You can safely learn new skills on bars, beam, floor and vault because they all lead to the pit! At Xtreme, I always look forward to the challenge of a new day and accomplishing the goals that I set for myself there. Everyone is so supportive and helpful of me.”

Brynn, age 11 – Xtreme Gymnastics


“When I listen to music, I get transported to where the style of music was born. I feel the culture and its rhythm. Music gives me company when I feel down, music lifts me up. When I have tough decisions to make I listen to music and music advises me what to decide. When I have a stressed week, it relaxes me.

Since I love music, I wanted to learn it, and found Yamaha. I have been here 6.5 years. My sweet piano teacher Ms. Tomoko is excellent; she is very patient, kind, and loving. When you have teachers like that, it makes the learning process much easier. Yamaha also challenges me and I enjoy being challenged, because I become a better piano player.”

Christian, age 9 – East Valley Yamaha Music School

I love Art and Sol because I get to spend time with my brother and friends.  It gives me a good experience on stage.  I love singing, dancing and acting.  It has helped me to discover my passion and has given me the experience and training to lead me to other community theaters around town.  Ms. Renee is very sweet and kind and patient especially with all of the kids.  It is low-key, fun, and positive and the shows always turn out great.  I am thankful and grateful that I found Art and Sol!

Sydney, age 13 – Art and Sol  






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