Earlier this month, the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica held a groundbreaking ceremony for its new clubhouse at John Adams Middle School, which is expected to be completed in June.

“I’m thrilled to death,” said Allan Young, president and chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica. “It’s been a five-year process to get this done.”

Construction on the clubhouse — which started out as a $150,000 project but ended up a $3.2 million project — is now under way.

“This is a historic day for Boys & Girls Club of Santa Monica as we begin work on the second-largest facility on the Westside,” Young said. “As someone who grew up in Boys & Girls Clubs, I know the value this clubhouse will have for its members and their families — providing a safe environment for kids to learn in, have fun and grow in.”

Santa Monica Police Chief Tim Jackman and Boys & Girls Club board chairman Craig Mordoh agreed. Both spoke at the groundbreaking.

“We’re very pleased to be able to build a new club in that part of town, to expand our services to the youth of Santa Monica, and we’re looking forward to a great partnership with the Santa Monica school district,” Mordoh said.

Added Jackman, “After-school programs such as these offer parents and guardians peace of mind. Children have a safe place to go that will keep them out of trouble and out of harm’s way. Overall, the community will benefit from the reduction in youth delinquency, and the contributions made by a more educated and productive youth population.”

Currently, the Boys & Girls Club operates a satellite after-school program at John Adams Middle School from a classroom, where it is able to serve only about 300 children annually.

However, the new facility — at 5,563 square feet — will be equipped to serve all of John Adams Middle School’s 1,100 students.

For $10 a year, any student at John Adams Middle School will be able to access the clubhouse’s daily youth development programs created to build confidence, strengthen academic performance and social skills, and also offer fun.

“That’s the only cost,” Young says. “There are no other fees. It’s the best deal in town. We want to have every kid be able to come into our facility without worrying about having to pay for everything.”

Money for the clubhouse was raised through major donations, and the City of Santa Monica and the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District each donated $300,000 to the project, Young said.

The clubhouse will provide programming to students Monday through Saturday, 12 months a year, before and after school, during lunch and during holidays, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.

“We’ll have this great facility,” says Young. “Why shut down?”

Jackman added that programs like this one can help to improve behavior and school performance, and “can help to reduce the risk [of juvenile delinquency] by providing productive activity and supervision during the times when children are most vulnerable.”

The clubhouse will offer a technology and media center, a full sound studio and a learning center, where trained professionals will guide students as they work on school projects or play Sudoku on the Internet.

It will also offer social recreation — including ping-pong, air hockey and field trips to museums or the beach — as well as access to the middle school’s facilities, such as the gymnasium for sports and the auditorium so that students can participate in music and drama programs.

“Kids need a place to have fun,” Young said. “If it isn’t fun, why would you want to go to it? We want this to be a fun place for them to be — fun with a purpose.”

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