Boys & Girls Clubs of Columbia opens new after-school site
COLUMBIA - The new location will allow the Boys & Girls Club of Columbia to serve 50 more children at Blue Ridge Elementary School.
"When we're trying to build capacity, we really do target our programs to schools or areas of communities that we really feel like have the greatest need. So, we look at a lot of different demographics," Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbia Executive Director Valorie Livingston said.
Livingston said their other locations have reached maximum capacity with their main location serving 250 students, Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary with 100 and Derby Ridge Elementary with 50 more.
"We already had about 20 kids coming from Blue Ridge, and we knew that based upon their demographics, that they could really use the support of a Boys and Girls Club after-school program," Livingston said.
Livingston said Blue Ridge Elementary already has 40 children enrolled in the program. The maximum they can take in is 50.
“Parents need an affordable, safe, accessible, and positive place for their kids to go after school while they are at work,” Livingston said in a press release sent to KOMU.
“The Club overcomes barriers of income and transportation to give kids opportunities,” she said in the press release.
"Boys and Girls Club gives our kids something that no one else does. They have tutoring from our teachers one-on-one, they get fed dinner, they get a bus ride home," Blue Ridge Elementary Principal Mark Burlison said.
The children a part of the after-school program enjoy various things.
"I like how we make friends and get all along," 6-year-old Kamden Lance said.
"We get to play in the gym, we get to play basketball, and we get to go to art class," 8-year-old Garyson Whitesides said.
"I like to make new friends, and get to eat everyday, and I'm always happy," 7-year-old Ze'nyla Hoard said.
Burlison says their biggest obstacle was and still is space.
"We wish we could have 100, but we can't just because of our size. So hopefully one day we can get a little bigger and get more kids here," Burlison said.
Livingston said the new site is funded by Boone County Children’s Services Fund and other local funding sources.