Wednesday, March 17, 2010

After School Not an Afterthought

Note: This story is from our March e-newsletter.  Click here to sign up to get each issue in your email every month!

In every community, boys and girls are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets. An increasing number of children are at home with no adult care or supervision. Young people need to know that someone cares about them. That's where The Salvation Army steps in.

Boys & Girls Club programs and services promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence.

In Sapulpa, the local club's after school program is growing and making a real difference to local children.  About 25 kids attend the program daily, coming straight from school to meet with Program Aide Ron Brown and his myriad of volunteers.  For a few hours each day, the kids participate in structured activities intended to help them become responsible, caring citizens.

Lacie, a local kindergarten student, excels each day during "power hour," a time when all participants work on homework with tutors.   Parents permit Brown to look through backpacks for homework, and if none is sent home with the child, he provides age-appropriate worksheets.

"It gives the kids more time at home to spend with their parents each night.  The parents are happy we take the time to make sure homework is completed," said Brown.

Although the homework program is popular with parents, kids like Lacie enjoy the activities. “I really like to play games,” she noted when asked what she likes best about the Club.  And the games are endless, with a full gym and a special learning lab, donated by Target, kids can get online, play Wii, shoot basketballs or read a book.

Josh, a 16 year-old Counselor in Training (CIT), is responsible for helping younger kids with homework and helping with clean-up and activities.  Before he started coming to the Club he stayed home alone.  Without divulging too much, he mentioned that staying at home alone got him into trouble and he likes what he does now, much more than being home by himself.

“I just help out and go wherever they need me.  I like the kids, it’s cool here,” he said about his leadership position. As a CIT, Josh is given extra responsibilities each day and is learning a variety of leadership skills.
Many kids like to hide report cards but at the Sapulpa Club report card day isn’t a secret.  Brown spoke proudly when explaining how all the kids bring in their report cards to show off good grades and improvements.

However, academics aren’t all they are learning.  Every Wednesday a Red Cross Volunteer comes and teaches a special program.  The kids have learned about CPR, fire safety, disaster preparedness and other life skills.  Once a week another volunteer presents an art class to all participants and many have won awards in local contests.

“Our programs provide structure for the kids, when they might not have it elsewhere.  The kids know what is expected of them and they work hard to succeed.  All our parents are positive and upbeat about what’s happening here,” Brown said.

Boys & Girls Clubs are a safe place to learn and grow -- all while having fun. They are truly The Positive Place For Kids.


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