GARDNER — Local children will be having a blast over the next few weeks at Gardner Middle School, courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club annual summer events program. “Summer Blast,” which is open to kids between the ages of 8 and 12, offers learning experiences through fun activities in the areas of science, sports and the arts.
“This is a recreational summer program that we’ve offered both in Leominster and Fitchburg, and in Gardner,” explained Jon Blodgett, the teen center program director for the Boys & Girls Club.
With the middle school campus serving as the group’s “clubhouse” this summer, participants in the program will meet five days a week until Friday, Aug. 7, to enjoy recreational sports, nature walks, chess competitions and team-building events.
“And a lot of science labs,” Blodgett said, adding that the program will feature several classes on computer science and Lego engineering. “I think learning loss over the summer is a big deal — especially right now, facing what we’ve been facing and with the kids not having been in school for so long, that it was really important for us to open up and service the community as best we can to make up for some of the lost learning.”
Blodgett said the program is also designed to get children prepared for the return of physical contact sports, which he said will hopefully be permitted under the next phase of the state’s reopening plan from the coronavirus shutdown.
“So we’ve set up a bunch of different games that kids can do with social distancing, so we can get them ready for some physicalness along with the social aspect and the loss of learning, and that’s where we really want to help out the community,” Blodgett said.
Event organizers were careful to follow state recommended guidelines when designing this season’s program, Blodgett said. In addition to maintaining safe social distancing during group events, all participants will have their temperature taken before entering the school, and no outsiders are permitted inside the school. Officials said that anyone, including staff members, will be sent home if they show signs of being sick.
“Our classes are smaller this year, with a ration of only 10 students to two teachers, where usually we would have sports with 25 kids, so we had to alter our schedules to meet the guidelines for sanitation, masks, temperature checks and close monitoring of people’s health,” Blodgett said. “To be honest, we know our (participation) numbers are going to be low and we’re going to take a hit financially, but it was important for us to be here for the community.”
Ashley Michel of Gardner said she was eager to take part in the program so she could meet up with some friends she hadn’t seen for a while.
“I haven’t been in the school for months, so to hang out with some new friends and some old friends is really exciting,” said Michel, who has taken part in similar programs after school. “All of the activities, the indoor activities and the outdoor activities, are really fun. And sometimes we do science experiments, and I love science. I love crafts and I like to draw, and sometimes we do that, too.”
Blodgett attributed the success of the Summer Blast program each year to the stimulating content it offered to children while they were away from the classroom.
“It’s not just your regular summer program where you’re just running around, playing tag all day,” Blodgett said. “We really incorporate STEM learning and content, and I think that’s what really sets us apart from other organizations and programs.”
Anyone interested in learning more about the Summer Blast program can call 978-534-8358, ext. 115, or visit www.bgcfl.org/.
See the full article here: https://www.thegardnernews.com/news/20200630/boys-amp-girls-club-kicks-off-summer-blast-program-in-gardner