Helping Works

New partnership helps kids on the Boise Bench

The old saying, “it takes a village” to raise a child, has come to life this summer on the Boise Bench.

A new partnership has united the Boys & Girls Clubs of Ada County, the Boise School District and Boise Parks and Recreation to create a summer day camp at Hawthorne Elementary for kids who live in the neighborhood and beyond. The area is home to many families who are struggling financially, especially when it comes to paying for extras like dance, art and other educational opportunities for kids during the summer when school is out.

Energize Our Neighborhoods, a Boise City initiative to enhance livability in underserved neighborhoods, reached out to the Boys & Girls Club to propose the partnership, said Colleen Braga, Boys & Girls Clubs executive director. The timing was good.

“The neighborhood was already in our sights,” said Braga.

The program, which is free to participants, thanks to community donations, including a substantial donation from the Julius C. Jeker Foundation, has enrolled 160 low-income kids, including 12 children who came to Boise as refugees. A lot of the participants have never taken a dance class, or gone bowling, or taken a field trip, said Braga.

The program includes meals provided by the school district and swimming lessons from the YMCA. Kids participate in a yoga club, walking club, they read, they tend the Hawthorne school garden.

“There are a lot of firsts in this program,” she said.

That includes the program itself. She hopes it will be a model for future projects and partnerships among agencies. The program has also attracted a majority of children who have never been associated with the Boys & Girls Clubs in Garden City and Meridian before.

Local clubs serve 900 children each day during the summer, and 500 a day during the school year. The organization is planning a new after-school program that will begin this fall at Ross Elementary School in Kuna. It is expected to serve about 100 children each day.