[Cool Kids Club] Power Hour | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Cool Kids Club] Power Hour

With school quickly approaching, many parents are asking, "Where will the children go after school?" Many after-school programs offer activities for youngsters, including the Boys and Girls club.

The Boys and Girls club provides programs that are especially catered to children's age group. They focus on five core areas of youth development such as character and leadership, education and career development, health and life Skills, the arts, and sports, fitness and recreation.

When children arrive to the club from school, they are introduced to "Power Hour," a program where the children spend an hour completing their homework with the help of tutors if needed. Health programs are offered to help get children started on the right track in living health lives. Law-enforcement officers even get involved with the club by playing a fast-paced version of baseball called "Quickball" in the program "Badges for Baseball."

Recently, 11 members of the program completed a speech course that provided them with lessons on public speaking.

"We challenged them," said André Conway, vice president of marketing.

Programs such as "Passport to Manhood" and "Smart Girls" are meant to help young males and females develop leadership skills and develop a smart plan for the rest of their lives. Randal Gray, project intervention director, explains: "Most of the time all the children get to see is the block that they live on. ... This is the most exposure to the outside world that they will get." He says the Boys and Girls club is "a safe haven" for the children in the area.

Although the Boys and Girls Club have several programs for youth in central Mississippi, that doesn't mean they haven't faced financial hardship in the past.

In the current economy, the Boys and Girls Clubs are trying to get every penny they can to keep the program running. On Oct. 22, the organization will host the fundraiser "Blues by Starlight" at Highland Village, which will feature live music from Jesse Robinson with Sherman Lee Dillon, Chris Gill, Scott Albert Johnson, and other local blues artist. Fifty of Jackson's restaurants will offer food to the expected crowd of 1,200, compared to last year's 900. Throughout the year, the club holds numerous events to help with funding.

Conway says the effect the Boys and Girls club has on the children is profound. "We are changing their lives," he says.

Six clubs serve the Central Mississippi area, and membership for one child is $25 a year. Call 601-969-7088 for info.

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