Arundel school gets Boys & Girls Club Severn center to provide after-school activities

September 16, 1997|By Tanya Jones | Tanya Jones,SUN STAFF

About 200 Van Bokkelen Elementary School students stayed after school yesterday -- all in good fun.

They had their first chance to shoot baskets, color and play board games, Foosball and pool on the opening day of the Van Bokkelen Boys & Girls Club in Severn.

"It's fun," said Calvin Stewart, 8, sporting a new white T-shirt with the blue club logo. Smiling broadly, he thought of all the games he could play once the outdoor ceremony and ribbon-cutting were over. "I'm going to play hoops. I'm going to play pool."

But once inside, he headed first for the air-hockey table in a game room.

His mother, Carla Stewart, was glad to have a supervised place where Calvin and his brother, Kevin, 9, can play and get help with their homework after school.

"We live across the street, and there are really no activities over there for them to do, so they're always getting in trouble around the house," said Stewart, a grocery store cashier.

With her sons in the club for several hours after school and on Saturdays, Stewart said, she will be able to work more.

The Van Bokkelen club, across Route 175 from the Pioneer Drive community, is the fourth Boys & Girls Club in the county. As with the other three, it serves a largely low-income area where many families live in subsidized housing. The Meade Village Boys & Girls Club, almost next door to the Van Bokkelen club, serves about 250 children who live in county public housing.

In Annapolis, more than 1,500 children are members at the Bywater Mutual Homes and Annapolis Gardens-Bowman Court clubs.

The new club will be open from 2: 30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. Children 6 to 18 may join the club for $2.50 a year.

Games such as basketball are hits with the children, but the club's emphasis will be on helping young people in school, giving them leadership experiences and teaching them about issues such as health and the environment, said Reginald Broddie, executive director for the Baltimore-Annapolis Area Boys & Girls Clubs.

But some community leaders in the Pioneer Drive area say they (( don't want their activities to be overlooked in the shadow of the nationally known Boys & Girls Club.

"We're going to try to work with those that come in, but we have been here for a long time, and we have been struggling," said Yvonne Johnson, president of Pioneers in Action. For several years her group has sponsored sports teams, planned service projects, and held sessions where young people can talk about pressure to do drugs or join gangs.

Johnson said she will keep using the gymnasium at Van Bokkelen three nights a week this year, overlapping with the Boys & Girls Club, to let youngsters play basketball.

The club will operate this year with grants of $75,000 from Arundel Community Development Services and $50,000 from the Justice Department. But to keep it running beyond this school year, organizers and the board of directors will have to look for more money, Broddie said.

Third-grader Shanequah Munford, 8, spent her afternoon in the packed computer lab crafting a brief note for club organizers. "DEAR BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB," she wrote. "I WROTE THIS TO SAY THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE."

"I've been in the Boys & Girls Club in Meade Village, and I wanted to say thank you for bringing it to Van Bokkelen Elementary School," Shanequah said.

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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