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Boys & Girls Club molds youth

Boys & Girls Club01By Amanda Murphy

With the beginning of the school year comes a new schedule for kids to follow from the time they wake up until about 3 p.m. when the last school bell rings. To continue that structure after school and so kids stay healthy, creative and most importantly, out of trouble, the Boys & Girls Club provides afternoon activities every day.

“It’s no mystery youth need to be engaged into something productive immediately after school,” said Robert North, director of the Boys & Girls Club.

When students first arrive at the club, they complete their homework before participating in activities. Later in the afternoon, kids can play music, do art projects and enjoy physical activity.

Teens partake in more adult-oriented activities, like cooking, to encourage them to take on more mature responsibilities. The club also holds discussion groups that allow teens to express themselves in a positive way. All activities are carefully planned to help youth learn and practice what they don’t always learn in school, such as social skills and team sports that help mold them into thriving adults.

Activities on this year’s schedule include beadwork, tie-dying, make your own fake snot, building a medieval castle, sumo wrestling, ceramics and soap making. They will also play dodgeball, volleyball, basketball, ping pong and other sports for at least one hour daily.

The Boys & Girls Club is a prevention program. North said most after-school program philosophies deal with youth after they already get into trouble. But the Boys & Girls Club aims to preempt trouble by getting kids involved at younger ages when they are more impressionable.

“The earlier you can work with youth, the better,” he said. “The two main things are encouraging them to become productive citizens so they can contribute back to society and preparing them for the workplace.”

The club also encourages parents to get involved as much as possible. Events are held throughout the year to show parents what their children have learned.

At a Hollywood club open house Sept. 4, counselors engaged children in a “Minute to Win It” series of challenges. One challenge had youth balance a stack of four brownies on their foreheads for one minute. The youths’ artwork and cooking skills were also displayed for parents.

The Boys & Girls Club participates in Red Ribbon Week activities, fall festivities and other community events throughout the year. They are currently preparing for the Boys & Girls Club staff music performance on Oct. 25 to promote the club’s music program.

There are also Boys & Girls Clubs on Big Cypress and Brighton. All locations stay open until 7 p.m.

Buses are available to transport students from certain schools to the reservation locations.

To register your child at the Boys & Girls Club, call 954-964-5947.