CLEVELAND, Ohio — The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio have been a staple in the community for more than 60 years. It's a safe place for children to go after school to enhance learning, develop healthy lifestyles, and build character.
- All 39 clubs throughout Northeast Ohio have closed temporarily due to COVID-19
- Children everywhere, not just club members, can access the "Cyber Club"
- It's a daily digital menu of activities and programs for kids to do at home
The clubs, spanning across 39 communities, serve almost 9,000 families.
Closing the clubs temporarily due to COVID-19 has taken a toll on children who consider the club a safe haven.
"I think this is devastating for some of our young people, that is a very very important part of their development and to not have that outlet to be able to run and jump and dance and laugh, it could stunt growth," said Allen Smith, Chief Programs Officer, Boys & Girls Clubs in Cleveland.
Starting this week, children everywhere, not just club members, can access the "Cyber Club." It's a daily digital menu of activities and programs for kids to do at home.
"Arts, education, fitness, sports fitness and recreation, character and citizenship, we are offering warm welcomes and introductions for young people, things such as acknowledgments if you've had a birthday," said Smith.
Smith says the intent of the 'Cyber Club' is to connect as many young people as possible with their peers and mentors whom they know and trust.
"We want to try to make the experience as close to what a young person would have if they were actually coming into a Boys & Girls Club, so the intent is to make sure we put in front of them familiar faces."
Smith is encouraging children to stay active and get outside when they can. He's hopeful people will continue donating to the clubs to help those without access to technology or basic necessities.
"We take for granted that a restroom is cleaned, a healthy snack available, we need this and it's going to a great purpose and that is to engage young people in ways they might not have independent of the Boys & Girls Club," said Smith.