At a regular board meeting held on July 12 by the Metropolitan District of Pueblo West, Angela Giron, president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Pueblo County, said the organization is considering open a site in Pueblo West.
Boys & Girls Clubs has worked to empower young people – especially those in need – to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens in Pueblo County since 1972.
The organization serves children aged 6 to 18, 86% of whom live in poverty or below.
The organization has four locations: the Avondale Clubhouse, East Side Clubhouse; Sprauge Club; Irving Hall; and a temporary site for adolescents in the Senior Resource Development Agency.
“In Pueblo County, nearly one in four children will not graduate on time,” said Becky Medina, vice president of operations for the Boys & Girls Club. “More than one in three local children are obese or overweight; 46% of local adolescents are sexually active; 33% of adolescents say they drink alcohol; and 27% of teens report using marijuana.
Those statistics, Medina said, come from the Healthy Kids survey conducted in 2015, but she said it still illustrates why Boys and Girls clubs are needed.
Medina asked the council what could be the most dangerous time in a child’s life, noting that it was between the hours of free time he had after school, which is usually 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
“And here in Pueblo County, we also face the challenges of what to do with young people on Fridays,” Medina said. “That’s a lot of free time, time that parents seek for quality care for their children.”
Medina said this is where the Boys and Girls clubs can help, noting that quality after-school programs have been shown to increase school performance, promote physical activity and reduce risky behavior.
“Parents worried about after-school care – just after-school care – miss an average of eight days of work per year,” Medina said. “So it really does impact our economy and our workforce when parents don’t have a quality after-school program for their child. “
For this reason, Medina said the Boys and Girls Clubs are open right after school until 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and offer all-day child care from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Friday. This is available all year round.
Boys and Girls Clubs Work on Pueblo West Expansion
In 2018, Giron said, the organization’s board of directors recognized a need in Pueblo West.
“We tried to work with District 70 to try to open one of these 21st century learning centers and fund one (in Pueblo West),” Giron said. “It hasn’t happened in this cycle, but District 70 is still very engaged because they know there is a great need here. “
Giron said that for a potential location, the organization is in talks with Prairie Winds Elementary.
“We (also) met with people from SRDA to do an intergenerational program,” Giron said. “This place will be here. They want to expand so they can provide services to seniors here, and they know how rewarding this intergenerational program can be.
Giron noted that the organization provides all of these services for only $ 12 per year, but costs the organization between $ 1,400 and $ 2,000 per year to serve a child.
“So we rely a lot on grants and foundations,” Giron said. “We have a budget of $ 2.7 million this year, and it’s making a lot of money outside of Pueblo, in Pueblo.”
Ultimately, Medina noted, the club’s mission is to help young people in the community who need it most.
“We want to deliver a results driven club experience,” said Medina. “When these kids leave at 18, they graduate on time with a plan for their future, they are involved and engaged citizens, and they pursue a healthy lifestyle. “
More information on Boys and Girls Clubs can be found on his website bgcpckids.org.
Chieftain and Pueblo West View reporter Alexis Smith can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @ smith_alexis27.