Messy Munchkins

Alexander Grey
Katie Wong learns the upside of messy.

The screaming and squirming of children never gets Katie Wong down. An aftercare worker at Mountain Way Elementary School, Wong shares how children continuously change her perspective on her own life. 

Like most teenagers, initially she viewed little kids as a bother. She admitted, “I always thought kids were loud, and obnoxious.” However, despite Wong’s bias, she eventually grew fond of spending time with the children. She learned to see beyond their initial loudness and frustration, taking the time to figure out the reasons behind the way the kids acted. 

Wong said, “Some kids don’t listen but they are still good kids. They just have trouble paying attention and sitting.” Through her daily interactions with the children, Wong has acquired various skills, such as patience, problem solving and leadership. She often finds herself mediating fights between the children.

Reflecting on her own childhood, Wong noticed a difference between kids in the early 2000s and in 2024: “I don’t remember fighting so much with other children when I was in elementary school.” 

Wong is a rock for many of the children in the program. She shares a special bond with one of the second graders, Henry. He has a speech impediment, but that does not hinder Wong’s ability to communicate with him. “Sometimes I am the only one who can understand and translate what he says,” she added.

The YMCA Program has significantly changed Wong’s perspective. She gains new insights from the children’s bright spirits. “I now find the children’s random questions funny and entertaining,” she said.

Wong shared that the aftercare program has had a positive impact on her life in ways she never imagined. She is grateful for her new outlook on the next generation and hopes to continue making a difference in their lives. 


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