REGION — Summer is only a little more than halfway over, but for many local students the first day of school is only a few weeks away.
With that in mind, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America launched Great Futures: The Campaign for America’s Kids on July 31, with all nine San Diego branches “taking over” the county to help spread the word on what the organization has to offer.
The initiative seeks to redefine the opportunity equation for kids by elevating the critical role out-of-school time plays in a child’s development and ensure every child and teen has access to a safe place after school and during the summer where they can build the knowledge, skills and behaviors to put them on the path for success.
Starting at 7 a.m. in the north and south ends of San Diego, two teams of Boys & Girls Clubs staff members and Youth of the Year honorees toured the county, stopping at 16 locations to engage the public in club activities and inform them of the impact the clubs have on more than 80,000 youngsters across San Diego.
At each stop they were joined by youth from nearby branches, who spent time playing games, posing for pictures and chatting with anyone who stopped by.
North County rallies were held in Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar, Fallbrook, Vista, San Marcos and Escondido.
The two teams met up at 3 p.m., when the day culminated with a celebratory rally at Embarcadero Park North. Each of the nine clubs provided information to the public about upcoming events, programs and services.
According to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, about 15 million kids have nowhere to go after school. They risk being unsupervised, unguided and unsafe.
“We’re trying to bridge that gap,” David Crean, chief executive officer of the nine-branch Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito, said.
Research shows that what happens during out-of-school time can have a significant impact on reversing the negative trends facing our youth and our country, specifically youth dropout rates, obesity and violence, according to the organization.
“We’re trying to get the message out,” said Crean, who started his day with interviews at local TV and radio stations. “It’s 3 o’clock. Where are your kids?
“Parents are going to have to start thinking about that,” he added. “These things are right around the corner. We want people to know the Boys & Girls Clubs offer quality after-school programs. We’re more than just a gym and swim club.”
Nationally the organization has about 4,000 clubs that serve approximately 4 million youngsters.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of San Dieguito serves about 20,000 kids at two branches each in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Carmel Valley and one in Del Mar.
The “take over” was the brainchild of Crean, who said a collaboration among the nine San Diego clubs was “long overdue.”
“We’ve never done anything like this before,” he said. “We’re hoping to do it every year.”