Boys & Girls Club staff and volunteers held Family Fun Day open houses Saturday afternoon at the Frederiksted and Christiansted Clubs, giving the community a chance to learn what the organization can offer kids.
“The Boys and Girls Club help kids improve academics and social skills,” O’Neil Canton, BGC executive director, said. “It’s a home away from home.”
Canton said the club aids the kids in the right direction. He said the club is a healthy lifestyle for kids, serving as an after school program.
“We are celebrating 41 years of what we do,” Canton said.
He said the club tutor the kids, assist with homework and provide guidance. They also have fun playing games and doing art and crafts.
The club is open to kids from age six to 17 years old. The location in Christiansted houses more than 100 kids and has a computer lab, but in Frederiksted, the club has no computer lab and has approximately 17 to 20 students in the club due to the lack of transportation. He said students at Claude O. Markoe Elementary School are dropped off to the club, but students from other schools aren’t.
“I really want to bring life to the Frederiksted club,” Canton said. He is working on a getting a grant and hopes the enrollment increases to the point where the facility can be used to its fullest capacity. He also plans on adding more staff.
The day was a family-oriented fun day, with kids playing on an obstacle course provided by the Virgin Islands National Guards, ping pong, baseball, basketball and a sack race. The coward also munched on burgers and other foods made by Chef Digby Stridiron.
Nadija Packauska from Face Fish Paintings did creative animal designs on the kids face.
Packauska has been volunteering with the Boys & Girls Club in the mainland for years. After she heard about the event on St. Croix, she was definitely onboard. She loves the club’s mentoring endeavors within the young kids in the territory.
“Children faces are the best canvases,” Packauska said. “I love charities and give full support to Boys & Girls Club.”
Sincere Williams, 10, has been with the club for three months and loves the fact that he gets assistance with his homework.
“My favorite thing is playing after doing my homework,” Williams said.
Trevaughn Dover, 10, attending Alexander Henderson Elementary School, joined the Boys & Girls Club a few months and agreed with Williams, saying he “likes getting help with his homework.”
The staff and volunteers assist the kids with their homework and upcoming assignments. Thalia Figueroa, 17-year-old junior attending the Educational Complex High School, has been attending the club since 7th grade. She performed her community service requirements for school at the club, but now she volunteers her free time.
“I like the fact that it keeps the majority of the kids out of trouble,” Figueroa said. “It’s just a positive place.”
Tara Nelson sees the Boys & Girls Club as a safety net for her two sons, Careem and Nathan Williams. Nelson said she volunteers her time to the club whenever she can.
“I finish work at five and I like the idea of knowing that I have support here at the Boys and Girls Club.”
She credited the BGC staff for constantly being friendly and for being the best after school club on the island.
According to the organization, the Boys & Girls Club is the largest youth development program in the V.I. The clubs mission is to inspire kids, especially those from disadvantaged conditions, to accomplish their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens in the territory.
The program assists kids with homework and improves literacy rates with reading comprehension. They also help kids with basic computer skills. The Boys & Girls Club is open from 2 to 6 p.m. during the week and admission runs from $25 to $50 a year.