SPRINGFIELD, Mo– The Springfield Boys and Girls club of Springfield has a goal over the next five months to Increase opportunities for older youth.
It’s competing against other clubs to increase participation -the best club could win a $20,000 grant.
KOLR10 learned the bigger goal is to counter poverty and crime.
All three Boys and Girls sites in Springfield will compete from May 1st to September 30th against more than 2,500 other clubs across the nation.
The goal? Draw in more teens and get them off the street.
“I have no idea. The club has played such a huge role that I have no idea where I’d be right now,” explains Central High School Senior Eric Cowan.
Cowan’s been coming to the Boys and Girls Club for more than 10 years.
“The club has put me on the right path that without the influence of the club, I may not be as career ready, college ready, as I am right now.”
For Cowan, the club is more than just a place to hang out, “The growth that I’ve had here has made so much sense and I continue to come here because of that growth.”
The 18-year-old was recently selected the 2017 Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield.
“It’s just opened up so many doors.”
$20,000 will go to the club with the highest teen enrollment and best average number of teens recruited.
Tony Ary is the Boys and Girls Club Program Director. He tells KOLR10 ,”t’s not just about developing what they have now, but it’s about continuing to work with them for what they’re going to have in the future.”
Ary says providing teens with these programs is crucial in the continued success and health of our community.
“When they’re here, we know what they’re doing, and we know what they’re involved in.”
He says they currently has 69 teens including Glendale High School Senior Bennett Sandwell.
“It will definitely set you on the right path. You’ll meet people that will give you opportunities or what not in the future,” explains Sandwell.
Organizers are hoping to recruit and provide more young people with a safe environment.
“It’s heartbreaking to see teens on the streets with really no general purpose or no general direction,” says Ary.
But he’s motivated to change that.
“To kind of flip the whole equation around and show that we really care for them. As the adults that work here and show them that we want you turn into somebody that you’re proud of.”
Cowan was awarded a $12,000 scholarship and will compete for Missouri Youth of the Year.
If Ary’s Club location is awarded the grant, it will help fund updates to his club and bring in more programs centered around teens.
Click Here:If you’re interested in getting your teen or child involved at the Boys and Girls club.