By Ben Lawson
As the days until summer break creep closer, the Boys & Girls Club of Seymour looks forward to providing a fun and safe place for kids.
Spring break is currently showcasing some of what the club staff has in store once school lets out. Fun field trips include roller skating and a movie. For teen members, the club runs a program called productive futures which enables kids to practice for the SAT and ACT, and also to participate in job shadowing at locations such as a hospital, IHOP, Mountain Home Vet Clinic, and the Sevierville Police Department.
Eric Harper, director of the Seymour branch, indicated that many more plans are in the works for the summer months.
“I try to focus on educational trips for the summer,” he said.
The 11 week program will include a trip to an art museum and Rainforest Adventures Discovery Zoo in Pigeon Forge. Harper also hopes to set up a trip to the Museum of Appalachia. The club will once again partner with the Seymour Library for its summer reading program.
At the club itself, kids have access to many facilities including an art room, an education room, and a gym, where the staff works to ensure a high percentage of the 100 kids they average a day attend gym activities to promote a healthy lifestyle.
On the first Friday of the month, McDonald’s sponsors a party for all the kids who meet certain requirements, such as doing their homework.
“This is a great program,” Harper said. “The kids will actually do their homework to meet the party requirements.”
A new addition to the club is a reading center aimed at providing a warm and quiet reading environment. Thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation’s Bright Spot for Reading Initiative for Adolescent Readers, the club was able to purchase 10 Kindles for the reading center. Harper hopes the new technology will inspire kids who otherwise might not read.
The futures of these kids are a passion for Harper, a former member himself, who started working at the club after high school. He became the director of the Seymour branch after finishing college.
“It’s knowing you are making a difference in a child’s life,” he said.
On Tuesday, UT football coach Derek Dooley spoke at a steak and burger dinner fundraiser. The club is also always thankful for donations from the community. For any questions or further information, contact the main office at the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Smoky Mountains at 865-428-6550 or visit their Web site, www.bgcsmoky.com.
Club Looks Forward to Summer
By Ben Lawson