CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Monday was the first day for the Don Moyer Boys and Girls Club After School program for Champaign-Urbana students.
Amy Brown, the CEO, said the day went well and her favorite part was seeing students hug their friends who they didn’t see over the summer, or ones that go to different schools. But with a new year comes some new changes.
“We’ve had all kinds of training for our staff throughout last week to prepare us for the opening of the After School program,” Brown said.
One of those changes is adjusting the age group that the club serves: now ages six to 18.
“There’s all kinds of reasons and research that go into that, and we would like to be everything to everybody, but at this time were going to mindfully align ourselves with the Boys and Girls Club of America,” Brown said.
She said they want to serve all families and their needs, but they are almost at capacity and wanted to make sure they can have the best programs for the specific age groups. And for the first time, the elementary students will be at the Martens Center and the middle and high school students will be at the Park Street club.
“I find it very nice because the little kids have some interests that they may have that wouldn’t particularly relate to me,” said 9th grader Jonathan.
Brown said last year, the numbers for teens were down. She thinks it’s in part because they didn’t have their own space. And the numbers prove that; Brown said they have seen a 400 percent growth in their teen population.
“I am really happy to be with people my own age, where I can share my likes and dislikes,” Jonathan said.
Brown said they have 140 kids at the Martens Center location and over 50 teens at the Park Street club.
“Socialization is just such a big deal to the older kids,” Brown said. “That’s why we’ve extended the hours to a later time because they are wanting to stay engaged and involved,” Brown said.
It only costs $25 for the school year to attend the After School program. The Martens Center is open to the kids until 6 p.m. and the Park Street club is open to the teens until 7:30 p.m.