Take a Tour of Your Local Boys & Girls Club

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One of the things about my childhood that I remember most fondly is always having something to do. Some years, it was ballet, tap and jazz dance classes. Other years, it was gymnastics or drama. As I got older, I turned to playing steel pan, cheerleading and choir and continued those until I graduated from high school. Given the abundance of ways for me to get in trouble, I’m thankful that my mother saw the value in keeping me busy.

After I graduated from college, I lived with my oldest sister for a while, and I saw that she took the same approach with my nieces. They went to a local Boys & Girls Club after school and throughout the summer. I would drop them off and pick them up in complete awe of the myriad activities available to them. My oldest niece played basketball with the BGC team long before she was old enough to play in school, and now, she’s in college on a basketball scholarship.

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Given this experience, when I found out Mom Central was offering Atlanta bloggers a chance to tour a local Club and learn more about the Boys & Girls Club mission and offerings, I jumped at the chance.

My daughter and I were able to take a tour of the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club and see firsthand just how they enrich the lives of kids in metro Atlanta. A child can be become a member of a local club for just $35/year, and for members, the club summer program costs just $150 for eight weeks of camp. In metro Atlanta, it’s not unusual for a SINGLE week of summer camp to cost that much, or more, so it honestly gave me an incentive to check out a club closer to home so that my kids will be able to attend this summer. Any child can join a club — not just kids from low-income families, though there are scholarships available for those in need.

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The Brookhaven club has a variety of areas, including the games room, which is exactly what it sounds like, the homework room, the arts and crafts room, an indoor basketball court, a playground and even a garden that the kids tend. My daughter particularly enjoyed the games room, where she got to play a little foosball and pool, and got on the exercise bike, just because.

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The kids who attend after school are required to complete their homework, with help, if needed, and then can participate in a bunch of other activities. There’s an art teacher who teaches them how to paint and create using other techniques, a dance teacher and tons of volunteers who keep an eye on the kids and just generally give of their time and attention.

A banner featuring a young Denzel Washington at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club.

A banner featuring a young Denzel Washington at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club.

Stars like Denzel Washington, Kerry Washington and many more came up through Boys & Girls Clubs and now work to promote awareness for the organization. I am truly impressed by the BGC commitment to enriching the lives of kids all over the nation, and I’ve seen firsthand what it can do. The director of my niece’s BGC was at her high school graduation and still goes to her basketball games whenever she’s in town to play a local team. In my experience, it is an organization made up of people who care, and I don’t think it’s possible for too many people to truly care about any child.

Painted ceiling tiles in the art room at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club.

Painted ceiling tiles in the art room at the Brookhaven Boys & Girls Club.

Last week was National Boys & Girls Club Week, when anyone could “Open the Door and Take the Tour” at a local Club. While the time for the physical tours is over, you can still take a virtual tour and find a local Club so you can get more information and see if it is a good fit for your family. Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta also recently held a “75 Blue Doors” Project to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the organization and show how local Clubs are “opening doors” for youth in and around Atlanta. Check out the winning door!

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I attended an information session and received a gift bag and promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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