BRADENTON, FL – Summer is more than splashing in the surf and barbeques. For many of our community’s kids it is a critical time. Without a summer learning program, many kids are at risk of summer learning loss, which could put them at a disadvantage before the school year starts. Others, with no place to go, are at risk of being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe. When young people have access to a safe place, like the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, with caring adults and enriching programs, great things happen. For the hundreds of children attending the Boys & Girls Club’s Summer Program, fun and learning are the ingredients for a great summer.
“Our summer program is a fun fusion of educational field trips, indoor and outdoor sports activities, career camps, summer reading, arts & crafts and more, all geared towards providing our community’s youth with a healthy, safe, educational and, most importantly, fun summer,” said Beth Work, VP of Operations and interim CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County.
Jennifer Holt, Director of Programs & Education for the Suncoast Science Center, visited the DeSoto Boys & Girls Club on July 10 and gave a hands-on presentation to the K – 5th grade members. Ms. Holt presented the Magnificent Magnifications program, which allowed Club kids to use handheld digital microscopes to discover the microscopic world around them. Along with an assortment of everyday items, they were able to see their hair, skin, fingerprints, sweat glands and clothing on a microscopic level. The club members experimented with the digital microscopes in groups and viewed the images in real time on several laptops. The Suncoast Science Center will also have their educational fun at the Palmetto Club’s National Night Out event on August 5th.
At the Boys & Girls Club at Daughtrey Elementary School, one of the summer program themes is “The Environment.” Club members were given an educational guided tour of the Lena Road Landfill by Eric Siegfried, Solid Waste Disposal Chief. They learned about the importance of composting and recycling and how it works. Members then took what they learned and recycled discarded cardboard by making colorful medieval shields, which they’re going to use in an outdoor, medieval themed competition.
Another group of young Club members were involved in a project that included reading, arts and crafts, history and musical performance. They learned why America celebrates the 4th of July and made American flags out of construction paper. On July 3, with their flags in their hands, they patriotically sang “Yankee Doodle,” which they read and memorized as part of the project.
On June 27, the Manatee Performing Arts Center and Evans Family Charitable Fund of the Manatee Community Foundation made it possible for members of the Palmetto and DeSoto Clubs to experience live theatre. The performance of Disney’s “Peter Pan JR.,” with a full cast of children, inspired the Club members with its musical message “You Can Fly!” They will also have the opportunity to see a performance of “Children of Eden” on July 25.
Every Thursday during the summer program, members from the Boys & Girls Club at Harllee Middle School practice good citizenship by reading to children at a day care center. “It is very inspiring and gratifying for the Club members when they look up from the book and see all of the day care kids wide-eyed and smiling,” said Tim Frost, Club Director at the Harllee Club.
Even when they’re playing foosball, ping pong, pool or ball tag, the Club members are receiving valuable lessons from the mentoring staff members. Whether it’s being reminded to wait their turn, share, help clean up or respect their opponents, there is no lesson too small when building good character.
“Our summer program is just one piece of the puzzle in providing hope and opportunity to the children of Manatee County,” said Valerie Bliss, VP of Development for Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. “In order for our community’s youth to succeed, we have to be there when they need us most, during out-of-school time. So, our afterschool programming is ready to continue the mission once the summer fun is over.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County provides hope and opportunity to over 6,000 young people at seven locations (Daughtrey Elementary School, Orange Ridge-Bullock Elementary School, Harllee Middle School, Lincoln Memorial Middle School, Southeast High School and the traditional DeSoto and Palmetto Clubs). Open the door and take a tour of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County. For more information or to arrange a tour, call 761-2582 or visit www.bgcmanatee.org.