Making a difference in the future of our community and its young people starts a new major step forward with the coming of a Boy and Girls Club to the Newton/Covington community. This is a national movement that serves nearly four million young people through membership and community outreach in more than 4,200 clubs.
Of course it has to be here to make a difference in our community. There have been a series of “town hall” meetings to listen for the projected need is in our area. The focus decided on is a center for teens. A place where they can find help in preparing for the next stages of their lives.
The historical roots of the Club traces back to Hartford, Connecticut, in 1860. Three ladies felt that the boys who roamed the streets should have a better alternative and they started the first club. By 1906 there were 53 clubs that had grown out of the club in Hartford. About this time the Boys & Girls Club Code was adopted. “I believe in God and the right to worship according to my own faith and religion. I believe in America and the American way of life, in the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. I believe in faith play, honesty, sportsmanship. And I believe in the Boys & Girls Club which stands for all these things.”
In our neighboring counties you will find clubs in Conyers, Madison and Monroe. There is a regional office in Madison for the Boys & Girls Clubs for the North Central Georgia region. Landers Thomas is the area’s Executive Officer. He is actively involved in all the communities that are in his region.
Thomas says the focus is always on the individuals. The Club will provide a safe place to learn and grow. The goal is build ongoing relationships with caring adult professionals. The club will enable young people to chase their greatness.
Plans call for a center with 16,000 to 17,000 square feet facility, including two courts. But the plans call for so much more. The projected Newton Center will have a recording studio, a radio station, and a cooking kitchen. This will allow members to prepare for the next part of their life following school.
A local Advisory Board has been created. Andre Cooper chairs the Board, Keith Curry is vice-chair, Reed Beard, treasurer, and June McDowall, secretary. Other members of the board are Cynthia Cooper, Newton Board of Education member Shakila Henderson-Baker, Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr., Roderick Sams, District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz, Thomas Stegall, Ronald Tumusime, and Frank Turner Jr.
Some of the “tracks” are academic tutoring and career focused activities. This will help with skill development for leadership and character. There will help on setting goals for graduation as well leadership development. One focus will be Money Matters. Others will center on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.). In addition there will be sports, fitness, and recreation.
A Boys & Girls Club makes a life changing difference in most of the youth who are a part of their programs. In 2015, the last year statistics are available, showed that regularly attending Club members ages 12 to 17 from low income families outperformed their peers academically with 74 percent reporting getting As and Bs in school, as compared with 67 percent nationally. A recent Harris Interactive survey had fifty four percent of Boys & Girls Club alumni saying the Club “saved my life.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs is, “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring responsible citizens.” The emphasis is always on the individual. It is the difference it will make in one’s life that is the end goal of all the programing of the club.
The Newton County Boys & Girls Club will also offer help on health and life skills as leadership training. There will be formed a Teen Advisory Board that will be challenged to make the new Teen Center the best place ever.
The vision of the Boys & Girls Club is to “assure success within reach of every young person who enters our doors, with all members on track to graduate from high school with a plan for the future, demonstrating good character and citizenship, and living a healthy lifestyle.”
The Newton Club will serve those in the 8th grade through the 12th grade. The tentative hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 3:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Friday 3:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 10:00 p.mm.
As this dream unfolds we will be challenged as a community to help raise $3 million. This will come partially from grants as well as community support. This is to cover the cost of construction, equipment, operation for the first three years, as well as to establish an endowment.