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FUN Club is serious about changing lives

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POSTED May 1, 2013 2:14 a.m.

Quincy McClain didn’t like what was happening in the neighborhood outside the confines of the Southside Christian Church where she serves as pastor.

 Young kids were being enticed into gangs. Many youngsters rarely had nutritional meals. A large number lacked basic health and living skills.

Making it worse, Southside had turned into a nightly shooting gallery. Manteca Police stepped up patrols, scheduled a Neighborhood Watch community party at Southside Park and pleaded for community groups to step up and help counter the enticement of gangs.

So six years ago McClain and her congregation - one of the smallest in Manteca - took up a daunting challenge. They decided to open their church doors one night a week in the summer as a safe haven for youth to play, eat, and to be mentored in basic life skills.

That’s how the FUN Club - Family Unity in the Neighborhood - was born.

The violence has ebbed in the neighborhood but not the need. They had 200 youth enrolled last year while realizing the need for such a program was a communitywide concern. That is why McClain and the congregation decided it was time to take their Friday night program uptown.

Starting this summer the FUN Club will operate in the former Manteca News building on the southeast corner of Yosemite and Fremont avenues. An open house for the public to tour the new facility, learn about the program, and meet volunteers takes place this Friday, May 3, from 5 to 9 p.m. Parents will also have the opportunity to pre-enroll children ages 6 to 17 for the summertime program. It runs for 12 weeks in June, July, and August.

“We keep forgetting that while a lot of youth in Manteca are privileged to have things there are those that aren’t,” Quincy said. “The FUN Club has served as their Disneyland vacation.”

But it’s Disneyland with an educational twist.

Kids and teens - who you’d usually expect to turn their noses up at celery, carrot sticks, salad, broccoli, oranges, apples, and such - devour the free offerings. They eat it with us much gusto as the free pizza.

They also look for actively engage in presentations ranging from tips on how to do better in school to health and physical fitness programs.

There are three primary themes:

• June is Health Education & Awareness Month “You Are What You Eat, Drink, and Think.”

• July is Empowerment Month: “Say No to Gangs, Drugs, Crime, Alcohol, Tobacco, Bullying, and Soda.”

• August is Back to School Month: “Be Cool Stay in School, You Must be a High School Graduate.”

Programs are designed to help combat obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

“All of these awful chronic diseases are plaguing community, and affecting our young people at an earlier age,” McClain noted.

This year there is more community support with the addition of a medical director, registered nurses, and a board of directors who are all engaged and committed to the program.  The new building offers space for a Health & Wellness Center where they will track students’ height, weight, body mass index, and activity and nutritional levels. They’ll continue to have the usual activity stations which include: basketball, jump rope, hula hoop, and jump house, pool table, ping pong, foosball, air hockey, table games, arts & crafts. The electronic station includes Play Station rock band. 

The first hour of the program is educational.  The students hear from a wide variety of great guest speakers from many professions and experts in the community such as the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Manteca Police, Valley Oak Dental, and many others. The program goals are to connect young people with community resources, involve them in good clean fun, and provide a local place in their neighborhood that they can call “their own”. 

“We want to help prepare our young people to live long, live healthy, and live free from gangs, drugs, and crime,” McClain said. “We can only do this by the community coming together for a common cause.”

The program is free of charge.  Registration is required, and students must receive their parent’s permission to attend.  Volunteers support the program for supervision and to reinforce program themes. Volunteers must be 16 years old and older. 

Not only do the kids take home a positive memory of their evening, but also at the end of the night, they take home a bag of healthy food. Then toward the end of the summer the FUN Club offers a Back to School Night where students are provided with a back pack filled with school supplies.

If you are interested in assisting financially volunteering or have a child you want enrolled contact McClain at 275-2154, or by email at Q.mcclain@comcast.net, or visit their website at: www.funclubprogram.org.  Donations of any amount can be mailed to: F.U.N. Club Program of Manteca, Inc., P.O. Box 2371, Manteca, CA, 95336.

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