Boys & Girls Club is a national organization that gives children of all ages a safe place to develop and continue their learning, even through the summer. There are 10 club locations in Northwest Indiana that have all helped form the children of the Region into outstanding citizens. That is why its new and improved Valparaiso location is such an important accomplishment for the area.
On Wednesday, June 29, the Valparaiso Club held its official ribbon cutting ceremony, marking the official opening of the location. Friends, family, donors, and stakeholders all gathered to celebrate their huge accomplishment.
“The Valparaiso Club is a state-of-the-art place for kids to be kids today and into the future," said President and CEO Ryan Smiley. "Thanks to the generosity of so many people in our community, we were able to construct this 36,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility that has everything for every kid. The excitement on their faces when they walk in here has been remarkable.”
With the opening of the new location, they are able to serve more kids than ever before. The event first began with guided tours of the huge facility. Nine million dollars were raised to create this building, which houses various activity rooms and showcases two impressive gymnasiums. Some of the activity rooms include: an art room, a digital music recording studio, a games room, and an exergaming studio. They even have a rock climbing wall.
The exergaming studio allows the combination of exercising with playing video games. This makes sure the children stay active, while participating in their favorite video games.
“We started putting in exergaming fitness studios in our Clubs once we started revitalizing them a couple of years ago. This is the best one that we have put into our Clubs. Really, it’s fitness in disguise. It’s technology-based fitness, where kids are playing video games and exercising and they don’t even know it,” Smiley said.
This Club also offers leagues, such as spring basketball, summer flag football, fall basketball, fall volleyball, and winter soccer.
While it is easy to sign up for the Club online, Smiley strongly encourages parents and kids to come and see the facility so they can experience it in-person.
“It’s not a place where kids have to go after school or in the summer–it’s a place where kids want to go,” said Smiley.
Friends, family, donors, stakeholders, and Valparaiso Club employees gathered in the beautiful new gym to listen to heartfelt speeches. The main focus of the speeches were on the amazing philanthropic contributions from the Northwest Indiana community that made the Club possible. The employees of Valparaiso Club highlighted all the help they received through the long journey of making the dream of this facility a reality through kind words and gifts.
Jeff Amy, director of organizational development of Boys & Girls Clubs of America, took the podium to talk about his experiences with the Clubs. He told stories of how it shaped him and helped in various communities around America.
“The Boys & Girls Clubs keeps kids safe, but it also takes the burden off so many of our families that are working so hard to provide for the families," said Amy. "Having a place, like a Boys & Girls Club, makes all the difference in the world.”
People that are interested in getting involved with the Club can visit its website or call in for the many opportunities. The Club is always looking for volunteers that can work directly with the children, as well as donations to keep the Club running.
For more information on Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, visit its website at: bgcgreaternwi.org.