Boys and Girls Club a saviour for parents

By: Tammy Rollie

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 08:38 am

Associate minister Kyle Fawcett presents $20,350 to Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley operations manager Mady Thiel-Kopstein, right, and board chairperson Jamie Myles to hire a music programs manager.
Associate minister Kyle Fawcett presents $20,350 to Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley operations manager Mady Thiel-Kopstein, right, and board chairperson Jamie Myles to hire a music programs manager.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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A unique program that keeps youngsters playing and learning after school hours is also putting Diamond Valley parents’ minds at ease.

The Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley is a rare prospect in a community of 2,200, providing preschool, after school and youth programs at an affordable price, and residents couldn’t be more pleased to have the service in Black Diamond.

They are even more thrilled after the club was awarded a $20,350 matching grant through the Community Initiative Program with the Alberta Lottery Fund to hire a music programs manager and $30,000 from the President’s Choice Children’s Charity to renovate the kitchen.

Single parent Gaylene Tingstad, who moved to Turner Valley three years ago, said the club provides many learning and social opportunities for her daughter. And it allowed her to keep her job in Black Diamond.

“I work nine to five so it’s good to know they pick (my daughter) up at school and I don’t have to worry about what she’s doing or who she is with,” she said. “They are trained and they’re good people so she’s in good hands and I can focus on my job and I can keep my job. During the summer when there is no school she is occupied and she’s entertained and she’s learning as well.”

Priscilla Hill, who has two teenagers who are now leaders in the boys and girls club, said the club has done wonders for her children.

When they moved to Diamond Valley years ago her son had a hard time adjusting and she said the club brought him out of his shell with the help of a male leader who taught him to skateboard and play the guitar.

It was also a huge help to Hill when she first moved to the community.

“I was a single mom at the time so I needed a place for the kids to go so I could go to work,” she said.

Single mom Michele Owens is also grateful for the Boys and Girls Club of Diamond Valley.

The club provides subsidies to families unable to pay the $150 per month fee, which was a huge help to the Turner Valley resident.

“I couldn’t do it without it,” she said. “It’s a life saver for me.”

The club’s executive director Shirley Puttock said about 15 per cent of families utilizing the program are paying the full cost while the rest are on government or club subsidies. She added that the club doesn’t turn anyone away.

The Black Diamond facility is constantly upgrading, with the help of fundraising and grants, she said.

Puttock said the grant for the music programs manager will teach the club’s children and youth group and individual music lessons in its recording studio, built in 2012. She hopes to have someone in place next month.

She estimates that about 70 per cent of the club’s youth are very interested in music.

“Research shows that children involved in music and do well in music also do well academically,” she said.

The renovations to the kitchen this month and next will replace the building’s original countertops, cupboards, flooring and provide additional shelving to better allow the club to continue providing healthy breakfasts and snacks to its participants and contribute to the club’s cooking lessons for youth.

The club is currently equipped with 10 computers, sporting equipment for winter and summer, a full library, arts and crafts and cooking materials for the 46 students in the before and after school program and the 30 in the youth program.

Facilities are also located in Nanton and Saddlebrook, the temporary housing outside of High River.

“They can shoot the puck around and come in and finish a program and have a snack,” said Puttock. “It’s a fun place to be. It’s not structured like school.”

Puttock notices an improvement in social development and academic success among the students at the club, with adults and older students available to offer homework help and assist with reading and math skills. She said older students even teach the younger ones to skateboard or play an instrument.

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement in relationship building,” she said. “Our kids are really a close group.”


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