Making out-of-school programs a priority

 In Blog, Education, Reno, Sparks

A message from Executive Director, Mike Wurm

Summer ’14 has been GREAT! When we first proposed to build the new facility on Foster Drive, there were some who questioned the need for another large Boys & Girls Club facility. Those concerned thought the new facility would simply take members away from the current Donald W. Reynolds Facility on East 9th Street. Now that we are nearing the end of summer, I can tell you unequivocally that we did not draw kids away from the existing centers, but instead, have reached new highs at most of our traditional summer sites while far exceeding the expectations for the new building. In fact, as summer comes to an end, we are seeing nearly 1,200 kids a day just between the Donald W. Reynolds Facility and the William N. Pennington Facility, and that does not include our other summer youth sites at Billinghurst, Fernley, Neil Road and Lemmon Valley!

As we look ahead to finishing a great summer and heading into the new school year, our mission remains stronger than ever. The issues our youth face locally mirror many of the concerns kids face nationally. Nearly a quarter of Washoe County high school students are overweight or obese, 23 percent of children under age 18 in Reno/Sparks live in poverty, and while we have made great strides towards improvement, 27 percent of local high school students are not graduating.

How do we reverse the most negative trends facing young people today? One way is by recognizing the importance of out-of-school time. The out-of-school environment—after school and summer—plays an essential, yet often overlooked, role in transforming kids’ lives and Nevada’s future. What happens during the hours between school and home can have a dramatic impact on a child’s future, especially in the areas of education, health and character development. By providing access to positive, productive programs and caring adult mentors after school and during summer, we can help change the future for our youth and our community.

Despite the transformational impact of out-of-school programs, every day there are still kids leaving school with no place to go, putting them at risk of being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe during these critical afterschool hours. Furthermore, during the summer, there are still children that lack access to expanded learning opportunities, which increases their risk of learning loss and falling behind before the next school year begins. If the next generation and our community are to succeed, it is imperative we redefine the opportunity equation for all kids by elevating the critical role that out-of-school time plays in a child’s future success.

The success of the William N. Pennington Facility certainly helps create a multitude of new opportunities for children, but we continue to ask you to make out-of-school programs a priority and help us empower the next generation to achieve a great future. We will continue to advocate on behalf of kids and work with public, private and nonprofit partners around our goal of ensuring every child and teen has access to a safe, engaging and productive environment during the out-of-school time. Together, we can provide access to life-changing programs after school and during the summer that enable kids to be successful in school and in adulthood, to be healthy and active, and to develop the strong character skills needed to become Nevada’s future leaders. Together, we can transform individual lives as well as the future of our community.

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