For some of us, the memories of childhood represent a time of joy, play and a sense that we belong somewhere — for too many local children those ideas are figments of the imagination.
A caring adult and a safe environment where they can have fun and feel a sense of belonging is at the core of what the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provide in a local community.
And, Scottsdale is no exception, but providing that respite for the youth-in-need does not come without a price.
“The Boys and Girls Clubs offer such a great resource for families,” said Scottsdale Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins. “Our children need a safe, constructive place to hang out when they are not in school. The Boys and Girls Clubs offer so many activities from very structured help with homework, to indoor games, to health-and-life-skill education, to fine and performing arts, and of course, sports and fitness.”
Mr. Robbins contends their impact on the lives of Scottsdale youth is unparalleled.
“They touch more children’s lives than any other organization in Scottsdale except for our schools,” he said. “The positive impact on our community is second to none.”
The Charro Foundation recently provided the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Scottsdale with an $85,000 grant program meant to provide local youngsters the chance to participate in organized youth sports leagues.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale provides a wide variety of sports leagues throughout the year, with an anticipated 2,200 different boys and girls participating in one or more team sport throughout the year,” said the clubs Director of Strategic Partnerships Josh Mundy.
“The Charro Foundation grant directly supports those leagues, which include flag football, volleyball, soccer and year-round basketball. Additionally, thanks to the support of the Charros, we are able to include new sports opportunities for our kids, including cheerleading and a 3-on-3 basketball all-star league.”
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale recently named its Paiute location the “Scottsdale Charros Branch” to honor the philanthropic group’s longtime support of the effort. The branch is at 6536 E. Osborn Road in south Scottsdale.
For 56 years the Scottsdale Charros have been in constant pursuit of improving the lives of Scottsdale residents while preserving the community’s ties to its western heritage.
Mr. Mundy points out the experiences children have at the Boys and Girls Clubs can become a life-changing experience.
“It is a place for youth to experience things they might not otherwise have access to,” he explained. “Kids participate in academic, creative and sports programs that prepare them for great futures. Their mentors inspire success of all kinds and provide an environment for members to become the best versions of themselves.”
Seeing that experience first-hand, Mr. Robbins says the proof is in the pudding.
“The environment is so very beneficial to our children,” he noted. “The programs and services offered by the Boys and Girls Clubs are valuable to any age child, to any economic and social background. Every child is valued and served at the Scottsdale Boys and Girls Clubs.”
Mr. Mundy contends the mission of the Boys and Girls Club is to give everyone an opportunity to reach their full potential.
“Our mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens,” he said.
“To achieve that, we offer young people what they need and want most: caring adults who listen to them, a safe environment where they can have fun, be themselves and feel a sense of belonging and constructive activities that channel youthful energy into challenging pursuits. Inside our doors, youth development professionals and mentors provide guidance, support and encouragement in enriching and safe surroundings designed to ensure our members become the next generation of healthy-game changers, innovative dream-makers, globally competitive graduates and 21st Century leaders.”
The unstructured hours
The afternoon hours of 3 to 6 p.m. are when the opportunity for bad things to happen to good kids seem to materialize, Mr. Mundy says.
“Boys & Girls Clubs provide a place for youth to go and have fun, while participating in first-class programming during that time and other non-school hours,” he said. “Furthermore, we’re committed to making sure our kids leave our doors ready for life’s next step. Whether that means continuing college education, trade or vocational school or entering the workforce, our kids are equipped with all the tools they need to enhance their community.”
With an eye to improving surrounding neighborhoods and the local economy, Mr. Mundy says the Boys and Girls Club is fostering an approach to groom the leaders of tomorrow.A view of the youth basketball league offered at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale. (Submitted photo)
“Increasingly, the health of our economy and our communities depends on a well-educated workforce and at BGCS we’re focused on fostering greater Scottsdale’s next generation of business, tech, science and thought leaders and ensuring that they have a positive impact,” he explained.
Mr. Robbins echoes a similar sentiment adding the ability to participate in organized sports can be a game-changer for the vulnerable youth of Scottsdale.
“The ability to participate in sports at the Boys and Girls Clubs is extremely valuable. First of all, they have been offering sports programs for decades and they know what they are doing,” he said.
“Second, they hire great staff and provide caring volunteers to ensure that the experience is great. Lastly, they have great locations so that you are not driving all over town to participate in your favorite sport. The Boys and Girls Clubs want your child to have a positive, enjoyable experience when they are part of a league. I have had my children participate in the sports leagues of the Boys and Girls Clubs and I highly recommend it.”
Mr. Mundy explains offering both recreational and competitive sports leagues has been a top priority of the local Boys and Girls Club.
“Today, thousands of kids benefit from sports leagues offered at the Club, providing them with an opportunity to participate in a fun, creative and structured environment,” he said pointing out league offerings include flag football, volleyball, basketball, soccer, cheer and 3-on-3 basketball.
“Beyond the obvious physical benefits, team sports also help kids’ mental and emotional well-being. Working together in a team environment helps provide kids with the tools they need to develop healthy character and leadership traits, too. They build their confidence, develop new relationship skills, and learn the values of respect and teamwork, all while having fun and keeping fit.”
Without the support of the Scottsdale Charros, Mr. Mundy says the level of local youth sports activities would be a shadow of its current stature.
“The support of the Scottsdale Charros is vital to our efforts creating the next generation of healthy game-changers,” he said. “Kids in our local communities struggle to maintain healthy weight levels, due in part to the fact that they’re missing out on consistent age-appropriate levels of exercise.”
According to Mr. Mundy, less than 30 percent of Arizona youngsters achieve the daily recommended levels of activity each day and 15 percent engage in no physical activity at all.
“The Charros’s support helps the Club combat these statistics by allowing us to provide a variety of engaging and fun activities that encourage healthy lifestyles through daily physical activity,” he said. “Additionally, the sports leagues funded by the Charros help kids develop resiliency and teamwork skills, teach the benefits of hard work, improve sportsmanship and instill leadership skills.”
–Terrance Thornton, North Valley News Editor , Scottsdale Independent
Terrance Thornton can be contacted at 623-445-2774 or at firstname.lastname@example.org