Boys & Girls Club doubles its numbers
There’s a lot going on at the Boys & Girls Club of Harrison County. Walk into the facility at Corydon most any day of the week and you’ll see upward of a hundred-plus kids doing everything from participating in programs like Smart Girls and Passport to Manhood to playing video games or basketball to climbing a rock wall.
To BGC officials, there’s not a better sight.
Participation at the after-school program, which has been as high as 119 this school year, has doubled from this time last year, with the daily average between 95 and 100.
So, why are more kids spending their afternoons at 600 E. Chestnut St.?
‘Because we’re awesome,’ site director Cheyenne Wright joked.
Ask the kids who have bonded with Wright and the rest of the staff, and they’ll likely agree. The kids can tell that they genuinely care.
Wright, who is in her fourth year at the BGC, said this has been the best year for staff morale.
‘It’s been a total buy-in,’ agreed Kim Grizzel, the club’s executive director. ‘They’re all putting in extra hours just to do special things for the kids.’
She attributes the increased participation to positive word of mouth, as kids talk with their parents and other kids at school about the fun things going on at the BGC.
Participation also has benefited from the BGC adding Lanesville Community School Corp. to its pick-up route.
‘We pick up kids from every school in the county except South Central,’ Grizzel said.
Grizzel, who became the executive director after the BGCHC and CARES program in Crawford County merged a year and a half ago to become the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harrison-Crawford Counties, said everyone at the facility ‘ from the kids to the staff ‘ are ‘kind of like a second family.’ In fact, some who came as teenagers have returned to work as staff.
The program is open to children ages 5 to 18, and, while teenage participation traditionally hasn’t been as high as other age groups, it is growing, as ‘tweens’ attending the program continue to come as they get older. This year, the program has close to 40 12-year-olds.
‘I feel like it’s been very good this last year,’ Grizzel said of the program’s overall retention.
Much of that likely has to do with the program being tailored around the kids instead of the other way around. While most do attend each day, Wright said, they aren’t required to do so. Some attend every other day, while there are others who attend on days of specific programs, like the gaming club on Fridays, she said.
Like the kids, Wright and the rest of the staff enjoy coming to the program.
‘It’s just fun all the way around,’ Wright said of her job, adding the facility is ‘generally a happy place to be.’
Sam McCollum, the site’s assistant director and only other full-time employee, said the best part for him is being around the kids.
‘I think, for me, it’s the fact that I get to come to work to play,’ he said.
‘Smiles, hugs and hellos,’ Grizzel added, naming several kids who greet her each day they come through the doors.
Membership to the BGCHC costs $40 per year. The facility is open from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. During the school year, the BGCHC provides transportation to the facility from the following schools: North Harrison Elementary, Middle and High, Morgan Elementary, Corydon Elementary and Intermediate, Corydon Central Junior and Senior High, Heth-Washington Elementary, New Middletown Elementary and Lanesville Elementary and Junior-Senior High.
For more information, call the BGCHC at 812-738-1696.