Club provides safe space for all children

Covid-19 has impacted all of our lives in drastic ways, but even more so on our nation’s youth.

It felt like one day everything was normal and then the next day we were stuck in our homes, no longer able to see friends or family. When schools first shut down and everything went online, it was a struggle for me to adjust. I lived in a house that didn’t have access to a reliable source of the internet so completing online assignments felt impossible. With the library and school closed, I ended up going to the local McDonald’s and sitting outside to use their free Wi-Fi.

Once businesses started to open up again my dad told me about the local Boys and Girls Club in Belpre, where I could have a safe environment to do my homework. Going to the Boys and Girls Club I found I would not only have a comfortable environment to do my schoolwork, but that I would be building positive relationships along the way. The staff were friendly and adaptive. If I needed anything, they were quick to find a solution and help to give me a welcoming space.

During this time, most school work is online; so, it is very important to have a quality source of internet. However, there are still parts of rural Ohio where finding a stable connection is difficult. The Boys and Girls Club provides youth with a fun and safe environment with internet access to do their homework. The Club also provides a fun hangout spot to play games or to just talk with friends during out-of-school hours. This is especially important when you haven’t seen your friends from school for almost a year. Even during these unstable times, the Boys and Girls Club is providing a fun learning environment for all children.

The Boys and Girls Club not only provides a safe space for youth, but they do so at an affordable cost. They never turn away a family based on income level and are always looking to go above and beyond to supply resources that an individual child or family may need. The Club was able to serve meals to families in need when they could not open their doors during the state’s lockdown. While my family was fortunate to not need these additional services, I have seen the positive impact it has had on those around me.

The Boys and Girls Club is a place where children can go to have a safe and fun learning environment and make relationships with their peers and staff there to last a

lifetime. It is the kind of place that deserves support from the community and its state legislators like Representative Don Jones.

Support from Ohio’s leaders and local community members is critical. That is why Club members like me and state legislators like Representative Don Jones are going to participate in the April 2021 Ohio Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs State Summit. I asked Representative Don Jones about our Clubs and he said:

“Boys & Girls Clubs help families, communities, and Ohio’s economy. They fill the gap between school and home. They provide a welcoming, positive environment where children and teens have fun, participate in life-changing programs and experiences, and prepare themselves for college and career success. I am proud to support investing in afterschool opportunities like the Boys and Girls Clubs because they create impact in local communities, especially for working families who rely on Boys & Girls Clubs as a means to be employed full-time.”

I want to thank all readers, supporters, and community members for taking time to read about my experience with the Boys & Girls Club. They have continued to be a huge influence on my life since becoming a Club kid in 2020. You can visit bgcohio.org or contact the Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington County for more information: (740) 373-4123.

Gavin McCartney, 17, lives in Belpre


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