The original article appeared in the Desert Sun, February 2022.

For more than 70 years, Boys & Girls Club of Palm Springs has guided children to achieve success in academics, health and leadership. Trained staff who act as mentors facilitate programming at the organization’s clubhouse, which serves as a safe place for kids to have fun, grow and learn.

The organization offers programs designed by Boys & Girls Club of America with proven results. These programs are designed for kids and teens of all ages and interests. They include sports and recreation, education, arts, health and wellness, character, and leadership and workforce readiness. Recently, the Boys & Girls Club received a grant for general support through IECF’s Coachella Valley Fund.

“Research has shown that kids that regularly attend the Boys & Girls Club have a higher graduation rate,” said the organization’s executive director, Margaret Keung. “They also have less absences in school, learn to stand up for themselves and others, volunteer more in their community and more of them go to college.”

While the organization continues to provide traditional tools, it also has big plans to offer the most needed and impactful programming as the community comes out of the COVID-19 pandemic. Boys & Girls Club will be putting more focus on sports and recreational programming, utilizing its indoor Olympic-sized swimming pool, full-sized gym, and outdoor areas.

Plans include building a cannabis education program to educate teens and pre-teens on the impacts of cannabis legalization. While the organization is neither for nor against cannabis, Keung believes the program will help prevent youth substance abuse.

While the organization had to provide virtual activities during the height of the pandemic, it continues to grow its capacity, bringing more members into the clubhouse. The organization has protocols in place, including offering vaccination clinics, requiring staff vaccinations, and providing KN95 masks. Members who participate at the teen center are required to be vaccinated, and in turn, their fees for the year have been waived, which parents and teen members have embraced.

Photos courtesy of Boys and Girls Club of Palm Springs

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