Sometimes just giving a child some direction or a little bit of tough love could make all of the difference. That’s what Shaye Roscoe, director of the Boys & Girls Club of the Lower Naugatuck Valley, sees through her work there.
“The out-of-school hours from 3 to 6 are as important to our children’s development as in-schoool or at-home hours are,” Roscoe said. “After school can’t be an after thought.”
She has the stories that show the results.
Roscoe said that one day she said, “Do me a favor, let me see your backpack and let me see what’s going on.” Inside there were papers everywhere.
She then approached his teacher at Long Hill School, who knew the child in question. The teacher said he hadn’t been handing in his homework.
Through a collaborative effort, things turned around. The child was told by staff at the club that he couldn’t play certain competition games in the game room until his homework was finished. That didn’t go over too well.
But, after two days, he started working on his homework.
“Within three months, that child was handing in his homework every day,” said Roscoe. “That’s what we try to do in here. We try to help navigate them.”
The Boys & Girls Club at 1 Positive Place in Shelton is conducting its annual Back A Kid program to help raise funds to continue to support what it does.
It offers programs to help youth with money management, and the Torch Club and Keystone Club help with volunteering in the community and to act as role models to youth in need. There is also a homework help room, where an adult is on hand to see and help who’s struggling.
In the gym, staff walk around often to see if they can give the kids a quick pointer with how to do a sit-up, throw a basketball or hold a pool cue.
If they see any child who could benefit from a coordinated effort of staff intervention — such as the example of getting the student to do his homework — staff get together and make a plan.
“Our Back A Kid fund-raiser’s main focus is, and will be, our general operating [budget],” said Roscoe.
Annually, the club runs on a $1.6-million budget.
“When you’re working at a Boys & Girls Club, our main mission is to guide … [and] to help our kids become successful citizens,” said Roscoe. Most of their programming is after school, but they also have summertime programs available.
Anyone may donate any amount to the club.
“We’re trying to have kids in an after-school program that would be cost effective for parents” and scholarships are offered to students whose parents may not be able to pay, Roscoe said.
There are other programs to help students find what they’re interested in, like the emergent science-based program.
“The kids have so much fun, they don’t realize they’re learning,” said Roscoe. They come out laughing and excited about what experiment they did that day, she said.
Roscoe said she knows teachers are “swamped” with their jobs, and that it is good to have an organization like the Boys & Girls Club to help
support the work they started inside of school.
“We really try to act as a bridge with the school,” said Roscoe.
She said the club and the schools have the same mission, to help students learn and become productive citizens. “If we’re all working towards it, the chances of that child becoming more successful has risen even greater,” she said.
Roscoe said the club can be for any level student: The student of a single parent, working two jobs, who may not have enough time to help them with their homework or engage them in a constructive after-school activity, to the student who has two parents at home and would like to give back.
“Some of the kids can be challenging,” said Roscoe. “But, you can’t just quit on them.”
Membership is open for youth 6 to 18 years old in Shelton and the Valley. For more information or to make a donation, visit bgc-lnv.org and scroll to the bottom of the page; or call 203-924-7462.