Boys and Girls Club offers much-needed summer program

Published 10:45 pm Monday, June 4, 2012

When board members of the Boys and Girls Club of Pike and Surrounding Counties sounded an alarm last week, the community response was mixed – and surprising.

The club, which provides after-school structured activities to children, was in danger of being forced to close its doors during the summer, due to a lack of funding and a lack of participation.

With only 20 students enrolled as of Friday, board members decided to cut staff; pray; and limp along on a shoestring budget in hopes that the club could stay open this summer and provide much-needed guidance and structure for kids.

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On Saturday, club organizers and participants took to the streets in nearby neighborhoods, spreading the word about the program and encouraging parents and children to take advantage of it. After all, for only $150, youngsters can participate in an all-day, structured program that includes tutoring and reading time; physical activity; mentoring; meals; activities; and more.

The Boys and Girls Club is an oft-overlooked program that provides a real and measurable service to children. Last year, almost all the participants in the after school program earned As and Bs on their report cards, thanks to the tutoring and mentoring efforts. Dozens of youngsters were given the opportunity to explore interests, build friendship, develop self-esteem and learn through the program.

And the summertime activities offer the same benefits.

Let’s face it, kids without focus and activities get bored during the summer. And they can get in trouble, regardless of their socioeconomic backgrounds. More important, youngsters who continue educational activities during the summer — whether participating in a reading program or working with tutors or simply taking part in specialized camps and programs — continue to develop and learn. We should offer those opportunities to all children, and the Boys and Girls Club helps make that possible.

We hope the Boys and Girls Club will find both the participation and financial support it needs to not only remain open but to thrive and grow, during the summer and into the fall.

It’s a much-needed benefit for all our community.