‘Mind, body & soul’

Published 10:48 pm Saturday, September 11, 2010

Program encourages Suffolk’s youth

For nine years, the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia has been doing good in the lives of Suffolk students. The Suffolk club has produced the past two regional Youth of the Year students and offers many programs to help shape the character and habits of students.

One of those programs is “Triple Play: A Game Plan for the Mind, Body and Soul,” which kicks off for the season on Tuesday.

“It’s a great program, that is a ton of fun for the kids,” said Reggie Carter, director of the Suffolk Boys and Girls Club. “It’s a holistic approach to having healthy students. We want to do things like educate them about healthy eating habits, bring in that exercise component and help initiate positive adult interaction.”

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The club will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4-6 p.m., at John F. Kennedy Middle School, where the club is located.

On Tuesdays, the “mind” aspect is in focus during classroom time, and Thursdays are spent in the school gym focusing on the “body” and doing activities such as jump-rope and basketball competitions.

“We want to give the kids better self esteem,” Carter said. “The activities we do support that goal. Obesity is a big problem in our community, and it can affect a child’s health but it also makes them not feel good about themselves. By exercising and learning how to eat right, we give them the tools. When they make better choices and feel better about themselves, it affects their entire lives. They can even perform better in the classroom.”

The students may not realize it, but the focus on the “soul” is incorporated into everything they’re doing. Their time at the club provides them with social recreation, character-building opportunities and skill development.

One of Carter’s favorite aspects of the program is the Family Nights hosted at the club each month. Normally, they’re held on the third Thursday of each month, but the kickoff for this school year is Sept. 30.

“It’s a great chance for families to sit down and have a meal together,” Carter said. “Together, they make healthy foods the children have been learning about. Last time we had paninis, salads and smoothies.”

The food, the fun and the fundamentals are free with any Boys and Girls Club membership, which also provides access to the other programs the organization offers. The cost of membership is a $20 registration fee, and for students 12 and under there is a $15 monthly cost for the first child, $10 for the second and $5 for subsequent children.