Visit one of the six city elementary schools after school and you will notice several children will not be following the usual trend and hopping on the bus to go home. Instead, they will be heading to the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County’s after-school program.
Since 1996, the Boys and Girls Club of Marion County has been creating positive influences in the lives of Marion youth by implementing after-school programs in the local elementaries of Garfield, Taft, Benjamin Harrison, George Washington, Hayes, and McKinley. They also run a full-day program during the summer. Open to any student enrolled in kindergarten through eighth grade, The Club strives to be a positive place for kids. Allison Miracle, executive director of the Club, said, “So often our youth are made to grow up faster than any child should and at the club, we encourage members to just be kids.”
The Club focuses on programs in five key areas: character and leadership development, health and life skills, The Arts, education and career development, and sports, fitness, and recreation. By concentrating on the following three core areas, Marion’s youth are learning to be healthy, to be educated and to be responsible citizens. Academic success includes Power Hour which is a comprehensive homework help and tutoring program designed to raise the academic proficiency of Club members. Project Learn reinforces and enhances the skills and knowledge young people learn at school through high yield learning activities at the Club and in the home. Character and leadership programs consists of Youth for Unity. Health lifestyle programs include Smart Moves, Cavity Free Zone, and Triple Play. Smart Moves (Skills Mastery and Resistance Training) is a prevention/education program that addresses problems such as drug and alcohol use. The Triple Play program is all about developing healthy habits. This program covers the power of choice, calories, vitamins and minerals, food pyramid and appropriate portion size.
The importance and benefits of after-school programs are endless. Students have been shown to do much better academically than others because of the additional help they receive in subject areas in which they were having difficulty. Young people gain self-confidence by engaging in after-school programs because these activities help students to focus, leading to improved grades and a more well-rounded experience. Most importantly, students have the opportunity to hone their social skills, becoming better adjusted members of the community. Miracle stated, “The Club is so important to Marion’s youth because of what it offers: A safe place, hope and opportunity, relationships with caring adults and peers, accredited programs and fun!” Miracle went on to say the staff members go through FBI and BCI background checks, are drug tested, and are certified in first aid and CPR. She said it doesn’t matter where you come from and you are able to create your own destiny.
The Club continues to be successful and 2010 was no exception. 252 members participated in the Smart Moves Program. 77% of members participating showed an increase in knowledge of positive body image. Members took two tests (pre and post) during the program to measure progress and effectiveness of the program in teaching healthy lifestyle choices and the dangers of drugs and alcohol. In the academic enhancement program, 781 members were served.
The Boys and Girls Club is truly trying to influence Marion youth by being that positive light in their life. The Club is genuinely living their mission: To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. This success and the rewards cannot be complete, though, without the support of the community and individuals. Donate to the Club today and support the future of Marion County!
To learn more about the Boys and Girls Club or to make a donation, visit the Club at 370 E. Mark Street, Marion, Ohio 43302 or contact the Club at 740-387-3462 or online at www.bgcmarion.org.