Kids loving their new after-school homeJan 20, 2017 02:36PM ● By Kelly Cannon
Aiden Lockridge, Trysten Torgerson, Ryder Tracy, Diego Gomez and Angel Huess play video games against each other. (Keyra Kristoffersen/City Journals)
By Keyra Kristoffersen | [email protected]
One moment, it’s quiet. Then, without warning, the silence is broken by dozens of stampeding feet from children ages 5–18, as they come running into their brand-new activities building. Rapid talking and excited laughs fills the air as they each sign in, grab a snack and head with other kids for recreation and homework time.
Parents who work are always concerned about where their children go and what they’re doing after school. Now with this sparkling new building, the parents of Sandy have that safe and constructive environment in the Sandy Club, A Safe Place for Boys and Girls.
Students engage in activities like contests, cooking and learning new skills and responsibilities along with playing games, working on art projects and getting help with homework. The teens and grade-school children are separated, but each group has a closet filled with age-appropriate toys, art supplies, games and movies that have been donated by members and businesses in Sandy.
“This is what this place is all about, helping people in the community,” said Director Linda Martinez Saville.
Each day consists of a three-hour block that begins with activity time when the kids can socialize on computers, do art projects, play games or just hang out with their friends. After that comes physical fitness time with sports like soccer and basketball, or walking and running around the track that is right outside the door. The last hour is dedicated to homework, with volunteers coming in to help the kids study. During these blocks of time after school, each child is also given the opportunity for prizes and Club Cash, which allows them to save up their good behavior points toward buying toys, games and privileges.
“The reward system really works,” said Assistant Director Aleynia Davis.
A new gym spikes out from one side of the building, complete with basketball hoops and donated sports gear like balls and volleyball nets, which is rented out to other clubs and organizations so the whole community is involved, according to Saville.
Saville says she wants the building to feel like a happy place, so every wall is decorated with inspirational quotes and beautiful artwork.
After 24 years in the basement of Sandy City Parks and Recreation building, the move has been a big adjustment, according to Davis, but few could doubt that the kids are proud of the new building and enthusiastic about taking care of it.
“So many of our kids are raising (younger siblings) because their parents are working two jobs, or three jobs . . . what we want to do is teach them to eat healthy,” said Saville. “We have 120 kids that come every day after school who are hungry and so we’re always asking for donations so that they can have an after-school snack.”
A different closet down another corridor opens to show a room full of donations like backpacks, snow boots and school supplies. These are community donations that staff distribute at their own discretion to help any of the children who may be in need of extra help. If a child is in need of proper footwear or jacket for the cold Utah winters but the family cannot afford it, the staff can make the decision to step in and help out a little.
Volunteers, especially to spend one-on-one time with the kids, and donations are always accepted. Since it’s not part of a national program, the Sandy Club, A Safe Place for Boys and Girls is in constant need of snack foods, games, toys and supplies. There’s hope for a donation toward picnic tables and grills to hold barbecues during the summer.
To get involved with the Sandy Club, A Safe Place for Boys and Girls, contact [email protected].