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Boys & Girls adds programs; offers reduced intro rate
BG CLUB3 8-24-13
Mariah Roa works on her dribbling skills on the newly stripped and waxed gym floor at the Manteca-Lathrop Boys & Girls Club. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

Some people lose $12 a year in simple pocket change.

But for the next month, that small amount of money will give a child the opportunity to participate in any one of a number of programs that will enrich their lives and give them a fighting chance to stay out of trouble and off the street.

That’s because through Sept. 27, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Manteca and Lathrop are charging half of the $24 annual membership fee for both new members and renewals.

The club reopened its doors earlier this week after taking the annual end-of-summer break that allows for improvements to be made to the Alameda Street facility. According to Program Director Mark McCool, the back-to-school shuffle gives the facility the chance to refocus what it offers its members.

Smart Moves – an anti-drug awareness program – always draws a strong following. A new Ag-based program will aim to teach members where exactly the food that they eat comes from – adding a scientific spin on the fun and hands-on outreach effort.

With some school programs are drying up because of a lack of funding, McCool said that the club continues to provide as much as it can to the kids that it serves and expects things to pick-up in the comings weeks now that students are getting back into the swing of a schedule.

“I think that with cutbacks in the schools we have an opportunity to make a difference and provide something that’s unique and different,” he said. “Smart Moves is something that’s important and has a message that these kids need to hear, and the Ag program will allow them to do something like extract the DNA from a strawberry – that’s something that a lot of these kids have never seen before.

“You can see the excitement in their eyes when they catch on to something that’s new and different, and that’s what we’re hoping we’ll see in the coming months.”

On Thursday Nathanial Palacios was still learning the lay of the land after signing up to become a member on Monday. The Connecting Waters Charter School (Modesto) student hoped to get some extra help with his math and science homework. He was working on his pool shooting skills once his study time was over.

Given that Palacios had only been a member for a few days he hadn’t made very many friends. But he had taken a liking to both the pool and air hockey tables, and looked forward to getting to know other kids his age.

“I needed help with my schoolwork and that’s why I’m down here,” he said. “I like it. It’s good so far.”