Boys and Girls Club: Affordable Summer Programs Keep Kids Safe and Active

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By Heather VacLav

It's been two days since a 12-year old boy was accidentally shot and killed while home with a younger family member and a babysitter. To help avoid another accident from happening, there are some places in Montgomery, offering programs to keep your kids safe and active while you're at work.
“When kids come here, it keeps them out of trouble, no doubt,” said Rick Jackson, Executive Director for the Boys and Girls Club of the River Region. “I mean they might get in trouble here, but at least they're supervised, so yes, once they come to our clubs they do tend to get out of trouble.”
Jackson says many kids are left at home during the summer or after school while their parents work.
“It doesn't matter where you come from, you can come from this side of town, this side of town, we just want you to come and have a great, safe time for the summer time,” he said.
According to the Boys and Girls Club, parents who can't afford babysitters, daycare or summer camps can pay $5 to enroll their children for a full year at the club.
“They just don't know that we exist, that we provide care service, youth service for an affordable rate,” Jackson said as kids played pool in the main entry at the West End Boys and Girls Club.
More than 500 kids from across the River Region are staying at Boys and Girls Clubs in Montgomery at the West End and Chisholm and Wetumpka.
“You can play and do most of the things you can’t do at home, because some children can’t go outside and have free time,” said Nichelle Tholpson. The 10-year old has been coming to the West End club since she was 6-years old and has made top honors for her hard work in school.
“Some people, they are bad and when they come to the Boys and Girls Club,” Tholpson said. “[But once] they do activities, it keeps their minds off of doing bad things and do good things.”
Tholpson has made friends at the club with Kalece Miller, 10, who has also been attending the club for several years. Millers says she sees the “bad” kids learning how to be “good”.
“When they sit in time out it helps them think about what they've done, so they won’t do it again,” Miller said.
The Boys and Girls Club says it has seen a number of at-risk youth enter their program going down the “wrong road” but after being in the program, turn around their lives to going down the right road.
The Boys and Girls Club is mostly funded by the United Way and state and federal grants, focused to help kids primarily from lower income families.
Program Information:
  • Cost: $5.00 (full year’s membership)
  • Summer: 9:00-5:00 p.m. with free lunch, parents must provide transportation
  • School Year: 3:00pm-9:00pm, club picks up children from school, parents must transport home