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New Miami Gardens Boys and Girls Club gets funding for activities at elementary school Read more at:

A new Boys and Girls Club will give children at a Miami Gardens elementary school access to after-school activities that include STEM, arts and crafts, and nutrition programs. U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens, on Wednesday announced $6.4 million for the new club, named after her, and two others, Northwest Club and the NFL Club at Gwen Cherry Park.

The money comes from congressional appropriations funds earmarked for community projects. Of the funds allocated, $2.4 million will go toward two tennis courts and a miniature golf course for the Dr. Frederica S. Wilson Club, Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade President Alex Rodriguez-Roig told the Miami Herald. The remaining $4 million will be split between the Northwest and NFL clubs for staffing and activities.

“The Boys and Girls Club has been a testament to what is possible with the resources we already have in the schools and the impact it makes,” Wilson said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Miami Gardens club. The Boys and Girls Clubs of America provides after-school programs for young people.

The new club, located at Dr. Frederica S. Wilson/Skyway Elementary School, is the first time the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade has had a chapter within a school setting. The club offers students STEM activities, arts and crafts, and physical-fitness exercises, among other programs. Registration for the club is $25 per child. The initial vision for a Boys and Girls Club inside schools began 15 years ago, Rodriguez-Roig said, when Wilson first spoke about the idea. “And with that vision, things started to happen in the last two years, when we really started to have a serious conversation about it,” he said. “And now we’re able to make it happen.”

The club did a soft launch at the school in January and attracted 60 children to the after-school program, Rodriguez-Roig said. The hope is that 100 students will be participating by the end of the school year, he said. “This is a school that has an opportunity for growth. It’s not at capacity, there’s a lot of opportunity to bring quality programs to attract the local-area kids to stay and continue to come to school here,” Rodriguez-Roig said. “While you enhance the school, parents are going to look for schools and programs that can be an impact to their kids. So the more we provide in this particular area, the more we can help this community.”

The next phase will consist of upgrades to the school for the addition of the miniature golf course and two tennis courts, Rodriguez-Roig said. “So when we have that, that not only brings more kids and gets them more excited and happy to be in this location, but it also gives them access to some sports that typically are more difficult to get access to,” he said. Rodriguez-Roig said the Boys and Girls Club is focused on addressing what the needs are in the community. Those needs could be homework assistance, tutoring or help with reading, he said. Another key area for the organization is mentoring. “Kids need to be mentored.

There are a lot of issues that happen in the world today. We’re exposed to a lot more information,” he said. “So we kind of help kids process it and learn how to process it on their own. So they can make their own decisions and their own set of values.” Rodriguez-Roig said one program focuses on nutrition and healthy eating. It leads to teaching children how to cook their own meals. “It’s kind of a fun way of teaching them how to work a little bit differently.”

For Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris, the new club was a full-circle moment as he recounted attending the Northwest Boys and Girls Club in his youth. “We have an opportunity to invest in children who are going to be our future,” he said.