The City of Calgary has launched a new program to keep kids busy after school between the critical hours of 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. in an effort to build stronger communities.

Calgary AfterSchool, a $3.3 million initiative, makes Calgary the first municipality to introduce such a comprehensive citywide approach to after-school programs, according to the city.

“The research clearly shows that kids who participate in these types of programs tend to have higher self-esteem … do better in school and are more likely to avoid serious trouble,” Mayor Dave Bronconnier said.

At the launch at the Thornhill Aquatics and Fitness Centre yesterday dozens of kids and teenagers were brimming with excitement while participating in physical activities in the gym, including 14-year-old C.J Cook.

“I’m really excited, especially to swim, I think it’s my most favourite thing to do in the world,” he said.

Calgary AfterSchool will have activities for youth between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays, year-round.