boys and girls club

From left, Bradley Doster, Bryson Jones and Eric Washburn play with toy bricks at the Boys & Girls Club fall break program.

Thirty children were running and playing games in the Charles E. Bailey Sportplex gym Wednesday. During Alexander City Schools’ fall break, the Boys & Girls Club of the Lake Martin Area is hosting its after-school program from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. instead of its normal after-school hours.

Located at the Sportplex gym, the Searcy Unit is for children 5 to 12 in Tallapoosa County and the after-school program runs from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. 

“It’s different for the kids being here all day not having to get off riding the bus and sitting (at school all day) in one position,” unit director Bridgette Harrell said. “They don’t have to go to school and then come here for this.”

Because many parents can’t take time off from work during fall break, the club extended its hours and held activities for its children. About 35 to 38 children have been attending the weekly program out of 80 who are signed up. 

Most of the children attend Jim Pearson, Stephens Elementary and Radney elementary schools and Alexander City Middle School, according to Harrell.

“The kids are out and basically we’re not doing too much of schoolwork,” Harrell said. “Basically we’re loose and free.”

The program feeds the students balanced meals provided by local schools and gives them educational activities such as crosswords. The club is doing state-mandated programs like Smart Moves, which teaches them how to make good life decisions.

The children have been playing kickball, ping-pong, zombies and monsters and wrestling. 

“We are doing our triple play program and that’s gym and sports,” Harrell said.

The day program keeps children from being idle at home.

“It gives the kids something to do when they’re home,” Harrell said. “A lot of parents are still working because they’re on fall break their work schedules did not stop.”

Harrell said the children are not using electronics a lot this week and get to play more often during the break than when they are in the after school program. They make up games and play board games more than looking at tablets.

“They’ve been making up their games and they put (special rules) into every game that they do,” Harrell said.

Club member Kaitlyn Hawkins, 9, said she likes the food and playing at the gym.

“I like to draw and build,” Hawkins said. “I got to build some stuff with the LEGOS and I got to draw Monday.”

Oriel Vines, 10, enjoys playing hide and seek.

“I think (the fall break program is) good because I got to help cook and help the kids and play and do dolls’ hair,” Vines said.

Harrell said her favorite part of the week is watching the children play and relax. She likes having the weeklong program where she does not have to remind the students to do their homework.

“(I like) to hear them relax because I know at school they don’t get to run around,” Harrell said. “I know they have recess and all that but they don’t run around as much.”

The Boys & Girls Club of the Lake Martin Area is a United Way agency and is located at 1009 Cherokee Rd. in Alexander City. The Searcy Unit is one of three programs for the organization including a Goodwater unit and teen center.

For more information, call 256-234-4757 or visit its Facebook page.