OAKHURST — Ask a seemingly simple question such as, “what’s new at the Boys and Girls Club (BGC)” and you’ll get a nicely complicated answer.
That is because so much is going on all the time, and all of it is very good.
Autumn is the season of playing with leaves, pumpkins and friends. That’s on the BGC agenda, along with health, safety and more.
Throughout the month of October, BGC helped spread the word that it was National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, enabling kids to celebrate the power of being able to live “above the influence” of negative pressures, especially drugs and alcohol. National “Above the Influence Day” was Oct. 17.
“Our teens picked things they felt they were ‘above the influence’ of, and put those things on cards, holding them high,” said Peggy Decker, BGC Unit Director.
“They also did a mock training with Yosemite High School student Dominique Misa, who is doing her senior project with us. The kids decided ‘good’ and ‘bad’ choices in mock scenarios regarding peer pressure, bullying, drugs, alcohol, school, jobs, and a myriad of other ‘life’ skills. It was an educational, fun, and empowering afternoon.”
After returning from Fall Break, BGC kids were excited to celebrate Halloween on Oct. 31, with many members dressing in costume from forest fairies to zombies, cats and witches. Staff dressed up right along with the kids. Nearly 60 members were present for the spooky festivities on that lovely fall day.
“Quite a few family members and parents showed up to help celebrate the event also,” Peggy said. “Costume or not, Halloween at BGC is a great opportunity for members to celebrate the holiday right after school, until it was time to be picked up to go trick or treating, trunk or treating, or to whatever Halloween events they were attending later in the evening.”
On Nov. 7, BGC members were treated to a special afternoon of lessons courtesy of the Mariposa Martial Arts Academy 2014 Black Belt candidates, who held their Bully Proof Seminar onsite in Oakhurst.
“The seminar was taught by students striving to earn their First Degree Junior Black Belts,” Peggy reported. “The first part of the program was a Power Point presentation teaching the kids how to recognize bullying, the different types of bullying, and who to talk to if they were being bullied.”
The second part of the presentation was about how to carry oneself in a bullying type of situation, and self defense steps a member could take if he or she was being physically bullied.
“Terra Szymkowiak and Serafina Montanez led the entire presentation which lasted over an hour, and was attended by 30 enthusiastic BGC members, ages 7-14. These young ladies did a fantastic and professional job of teaching our BGC youth about bullying and standing up for oneself,” stated Peggy enthusiastically.
“Our kids came out of the seminar more aware, educated, and with more self confidence in regards to bullying and how to STOP it!”
Terra and Serafina are extremely talented, according to Peggy, and shared some of their skills with the group following the anti-bully demonstrations.
“They showed us ‘katas,’ or training exercises. The members and staff here, as well as the parents that stopped by, were very impressed! We’re lucky and grateful to have people and organizations in the community willing to share with us. Our Club would like to thank the Montanez family for setting up this presentation, along with their continued and constant support of our Club.”