“Liam wants to go to Engage!, that’s the best thing,” says Liam’s mom, Jane Orban. “He looks forward to going every day and continues to be excited about the program.”

Liam Gibson has been a part of the Engage! Out-of-School Time program in Hesperia for five years, starting in the second grade. Now, after completing sixth grade at the middle school, Liam continues to flourish in the program.

Liam’s parents first sent him to Engage! to help improve his focus in a safe place outside of school. Being in the program helped Liam more smoothly transition from the elementary school to the middle school because he still had the support and consistency from Engage!. While there were still a number of changes between school and switching to the middle school Engage! program, Liam learned how to adapt and thrive during these new experiences.

Fun, goofy and inclusive are a few words that describe Liam’s personality. Megan Dyke, the Engage! site coordinator at David C. Outwin Middle School in Hesperia says, “My favorite Liam days are when he comes in and immediately starts playing music and dancing around. He can really set a positive mood for the whole group and get them all involved and dancing too. Even for those who are shy and choose not to dance, you can still see the smiles on their faces watching Liam’s impromptu dance parties.”

Two of Liam’s favorite parts of Engage! are these impromptu dance parties and spending time with friends. Liam has built strong friendships through spending time after school doing fun activities and learning new things with other students. Having this time to interact with friends and other students has fostered an outgoing personality and love for people in Liam.

Not only has Liam grown socially in Engage!, but he has also expanded his interests and skills. Liam is a great problem solver and excels in any kind of engineering challenge. He loves to be innovative in the engineering activities that are a part of the curriculum at Engage! and continuously makes creative projects. Liam showcased these skills at the S.T.E.A.M challenge, an event hosted by TrueNorth Community Services for all 360 students in Out-of-School Time programs. He even was a winner in the Day-of Challenge where he worked with students from different programs to create a bridge out of legos.

Being in Engage! for five years has positively impacted Liam and his family. Having a safe place to go after school to spend time with friends while having hands-on learning experiences has helped Liam grow as a student and most importantly, as an individual. After seeing how much Liam enjoyed and excelled in Engage! Liam’s parents enrolled his sister in the elementary school program as well.

Looking to the future, Liam is excited to continue in the program. When asked what Liam could see himself doing in the future, he said, “I’ve been told I am a people person before, so I think I’d like to do something where you’re more talkative with people.” While Liam has a long time to decide what he would eventually like to do, he will carry with him the life-long skills he has learned in the program.