“A lot of these kids have come through here and become leaders in our community, and they’re gonna continue to do that,” Judge/Executive Tim Flener
By Chris Cole
It took a couple weeks and finally getting some good weather, but the Butler County Boys and Girls Club Teen Center, located on S. Tyler Street in Morgantown, held its official ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, Feb 2.
“This is a place for middle school and high school kids to come after school. Our elementary school program goes to two sites, Morgantown Elementary and North Butler Elementary. We’ve had the site here, which is on the housing authority property, for about 27 years for the elementary school kids” said Bruce White, the president of the Board of Directors for the Boys and Girls Club of Butler County.
The Boys and Girls Club of Butler County has, for many years, been a place where kids and teens can have not just a place to go after school, but also a place where they can begin to learn skills that will serve them well later in their lives and potential careers.
Amanda White, the area director for the Boys and Girls Club, stated that one of the biggest goals is to take kids “six years old through 18 years old and help them develop their full potential, being productive citizens for their community. So, whether that be going to college, that be getting a local job or finding a trade or something they want to do, we want to help fill in the gaps of the resources that’s not available to them outside of the Boys and Girls Club.”
Both Bruce and Amanda White stated that having the financial support of companies such as Houchens Industries has been vital in allowing them to offer access to new and emerging job and career opportunities.
“We’re about trying to train these middle school and high school kids to go into the job force, to make a living and be productive citizens” stated Bruce White. He then added, “We’ve got 3D printers and coding equipment where kids can learn to use robots. And we’re hopeful down the line that maybe we’ll have a simulated bulldozer. We’ve got another $15,000.00 grant from Papa John’s and another tech company, and this is a one-year license for a program where kids here can put on headsets and they can train in eighteen different locations, anywhere from being an EMT to a lineman to a welder. We’re thinking of not only getting our kids good jobs when they get out of school, but it might feed the kids interest in something they never thought of and they’ll say, ‘I think I want to do that.’”
Amanda White added that companies such as Delta Faucets have also expressed interest in partnering with the Boys and Girls Club of Butler County.
Training for the future isn’t the only goal, however, it’s also learning how to balance work and play. When the teens arrive at the Boys and Girls Club they need to put in an hour of homework before they can get on any of the equipment, whether it’s the 3D printers, coding machines or even any of the video game systems.
Speaking of the Boys and Girls Club unveiled a fully interactive and immersive gaming system called “iWall” which uses movement as the means of input rather than using a controller. Amanda White described it as “like being a (Nintendo) Wii”, and Bruce White stated that it’s goal is “to get kids moving rather than just sitting still.”
Also included in the teen center is an area above the gymnasium floor which offers a bit of a quieter space to focus, relax and even enjoy a bit of competitiveness with a foosball table.”
At the ribbon cutting ceremony, Judge/Executive Tim Flener stated “On behalf of the county, we want to thank you for everything you’ve done, and the board members have done here. Not only for the past children that have come through here whose lives have changed, but also the lives it’s gonna continue to change. It’s made a great impact on our county, our city, our people. A lot of these kids have come through here and become leaders in our community, and they’re gonna continue to do that.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs of America itself can trace its history back to Hartford, Connecticut in the year 1860 when four women, Mary Goodwin, Alice Goodwin, Elizabeth Hammersley and Louisa Bushnell, believed that boys who were roamed the streets should have a positive alternative instead. 46 years later, several similar organizations around New England decided to affiliate together and founded what would come to be known as The Boys and Girls Club of America.
Since then, it has reached across various divides to offer children and youth of any and every background a chance to build skills and succeed in whatever endeavor they choose.
BGC 3-5: The gymnasium will not only be able to host athletic activity, but space above the gym floor for gaming, foosball and billiards as well.