The Frankford branch of the Boys and Girls Clubs opened in 1938 and has been serving the youth of Frankford ever since.
“I’m 61 years old and I started coming here when I was 10 years old,” said Clarence Miller, unit director of the Frankford Boys and Girls Club. “I went to school to be a gym teacher but I came here to work for the summer and I said, ‘I want to stay.’”
There are many staff members who have followed in Miller’s footsteps, being a product of the boys and girls club who then come back to work.
Children who participate in the club’s after-school program are educated in health and life skills, the arts, career and education development, character and leadership, and sports, fitness and recreation.
The staff aims to mold a well-rounded individual by the time the children leave the Boys and Girls Club. In health and life skills, children learn the difference between a good touch versus a bad touch, how they develop and how to build good decision making skills.
In the arts, children are schooled in dance, drama and writing. Career and education development assists older members of the club in choosing a career path and setting goals for graduation. Character and leadership teaches children about topics like the democratic process and defining volunteerism.
“Sports and recreation are about mind body and soul,” said Miller. “We teach them healthy habits, leisure time sports and they learn about obesity.”
Aside from the five core areas of learning, the Frankford Boys and Girls Club pushes their members to take part in their literacy program and to partake in project based learning (PBL). In the literacy program, children learn reading comprehension and how to sound words and write.
“In project based learning, the children choose projects based on an open-ended question and will do the research to find out the answer to the question,” said Miller. “Each person has a job to do and they come together with the information.”
The Boys and Girls Club does a lot for the individual child outside of the classroom and it does so by functioning as a non-profit.
“City money comes in the form of an OST program, which is an out-of-school time program,” said Miller. “It’s actually funded by the state but it comes through the city of Philadelphia school district and they give us money to help service kids so membership money wouldn’t be a deterrent for them to come and take part in the program.”
Aside from being funded by the state, the Boys and Girls Club agency as a whole hosts an annual wine and cheese night at the Convention Center to fundraise for the budget and operating costs.
– Text, video and images by Sarah Figorski.