Established in June, 2000, the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club is a community-based, registered charitable organization with a present membership of 160 children and youth in the community. Their mission is to provide a safe, supportive place where children and youth ages five to 18, while under the direction of caring adults, can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers, build positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life, thereby promoting successful transition into adulthood.
Their programs aim to enhance quality of life, improve self-esteem, and help members make positive decisions in their lives. Through its programs and activities the Club assists in the social, emotional, educational, and physical development of members, regardless of their background, home life, neighborhood, or financial status. These benefits extend to parents and caregivers, who are provided with a safe, positive and affordable place for their children to interact and socialize while acquiring new skills, and the community, by providing children and youth the opportunity to engage in positive activities that provide the skills and knowledge needed to become successful and productive adults.
Children at the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club are aware of social media connections and oftentimes, they long for ipad, iphones, or smartphones so they can create their own profiles and interact virtually. Somehow the importance of play has been lost in recent decades. It’s regarded as something trivial, or even as something negative that contrasts with “work”. As such it is important to not lose sight of its benefits, and the fundamental contributions it makes to human achievements in the arts, sciences and technology.
With the grant awarded by the IGA, the club was able to create an indoor space in their building to allow children and youth to foster face-to-face social interactions. This space opens up the St. Anthony and Area Boys & Girls Club to children and youth on a daily basis. The new areas allow children to choose the area they wish to attend for the day, with a break up of activities between social/mental, recreational and creative.
1. The Reading Nook – this gives children a quiet, vibrant area to broaden their minds and mental health. The Reading Nook is used daily to encourage reading in children and youth for learning and sound mental health.
2. The Games Room – This room houses different games that children can use to develop social skills, healthy competition, and mediation skills. The Games Room is also used daily with board games and interactive gaming systems that children/youth can use to be active and engage their minds.
3. Fun Factory- This room allows children to participate in unstructured play. There is an indoor treehouse, a play market, and restaurant so they can develop social skills to become adults that contribute to society. The Fun Factory room is also known as the Play Zone and is a world of adventure for young minds. It enables them to use their imagination in play and develop skills with their peers.
4. Yack and Snack Tables – Booths where children can gather with their peers to play board games, chat amongst themselves or eat their snacks. These tables are meant to form friendships, broaden horizons and nurture positive mental health. There’s a large banquet table that several children can sit at to play a game or eat their snacks and talk.
As well, they were able to offer a space for reading and homework – a reading nook and a homework haven, and as well a space where they can sit with peers to play cards or eat their healthy snacks!
The IGA is very pleased to have supported this initiative, and was most impressed with the Club’s work when members of the IGA visited in September!