TRURO – It’s been five decades since the Boys and Girls Club of Truro and Colchester opened its doors, and they’re ready to celebrate.
Sonya Chisholm, youth co-ordinator, and Amanda McNea, acting director of operations, are planning a special day this Saturday with the hopes of bringing the public in. Its 50th anniversary was April 8, however the club is celebrating with the public this weekend.
“Serving 50 years in the community is a long time,” said McNea. “Because we’ve seen a lot of people come through the doors over the years, we’re hoping some of those people will come back and see what we do, or what we still do.”
The club offers year-round programs for youth between the ages of five and 18, and the older youth will be hosting tours of the facility on Victoria Street during Saturday’s open house.
“A lot of the youth that started here when they were in Grade Primary are now in Sonya’s youth group,” McNea said.
“It’s like their home,” added Chisholm.
The club offers programming free of charge to local youth, and provides them with a safe place to go while working on their confidence and life skills.
“Having the club in the community, I think a lot of parents benefit from the subsidies that are offered,” said Chisholm, with McNea adding the club is subsidized by the United Way.
Along with after-school programming, the club is open in the winter when school is cancelled on storm days, as well as during breaks in school.
“We offer camps over Christmas, March Break and the summer,” said McNea.
During the years, some of the post popular programs through the club have centered around cooking, getting homework done, physical activities and even drawing.
“The homework club is very popular and parents like their kids coming home with their homework done,” the executive director said.
One of the newest programs offered is the Rogers Raising the Grade, which offers a tech centre to the youth that utilize the club.
“It really helps the older youth and helps them in deciding what they want to do after they graduate school,” said McNea.
But along with the programming, the club also helps in ways that may not be as obvious to some.
“It really is a safe place to go,” said Chisholm. “It feels like we have our own community here, and it helps people develop new relationships.”
Because the club is available to all youth, the participants come from various schools in the area, such as Bible Hill, Harmony and Truro.
“It gives them a chance to interact with other people that aren’t just in their school class,” said McNea. “When they go to high school, they’ll already know more of those people than just who was in their class.”
“That’s had a huge impact on a lot of the kids here,” added Chisholm. “And the leaders in the schools might not be the leaders here. The club gives them a chance to be who they are with leaders. They feel comfortable to do that sort of stuff.”
Saturday’s open house runs from 12 to 2 p.m., with tours happening from 12 to 1 p.m. Activities on site will include information about programs and summer registration, crafts, activities, a bake sale, face painting, a photo booth, candy guessing and a sucker pull.
History of the Boys and Girls Club of Truro and Colchester:
- The Truro Police Boys Club was formed on April 8, 1964
- It was originally the brainchild of Sgt. Bruce Conway, who was elected first president and spearheaded the program
- The club started to provide recreational diversion for young boys in the hope of reducing juvenile delinquency and vandalism in the town
- By 1967, the membership had grown to 200; within 10 years, it climbed to 428
- In October 1972, the name changed to Truro Boys Club
- In 1974, a resolution was presented to the National Board of Boys Club of Canada to have the name changed to Boys and Girls Club of Canada
- A notice of motion made in October 1974 was approved in 1975 to change the name to Truro Boys and Girls Club
- In June 2005, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada unveiled a new national logo, core values and mission statement. With the change, the local club became the Boys and Girls Club of Truro and Colchester
- Today, there are approximately 100 regular members, with that number doubling for the numbers of participants in programs throughout the year