Pauline South Intermediate School students gain “tremendous comfort and security” from knowing they have a place to go after school where adults are looking out for them, principal Chris Holman said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, parents take comfort in knowing their children will be cared for after school at the Montara Unit operated by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka, Holman said.
He spoke as officials announced a partnership between Shawnee County Parks and Recreation and the Boys & Girls Clubs. The gathering took place at the Montara Unit’s headquarters at Velma K. Paris Community Center, 6715 S.W. Westview Road.
Those in attendance included Shawnee County commissioners Bob Archer and Kevin Cook; Sheriff Herman Jones; Interim Topeka Police Chief Kris Kramer; Dawn McWilliams, CEO for Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka; and Marcus Miller, director of that organization’s Montara Unit, which opened in February. Tuesday’s speakers included Pauline Central Primary school student Caden El-Amin and Pauline South student Megan Weis.
Megan said she enjoys coming to the center because the people there are nice, and they make sure she is safe.
“The Boys and Girls Club is a great place to go where kids can have fun, be safe and get help with their education,” she said.
Megan and Caden held opposite ends of a ribbon Tuesday as Archer and Cook used oversized scissors to cut it.
The Montara site is among 10 locations Boys and Girls Clubs of Topeka maintains in Shawnee County.
Boys & Girls Clubs since June 2015 has leased Abbott Community Center, where it operates a program for teenagers, from the county’s parks and recreation department.
That partnership grew last February, when Boys & Girls Clubs began leasing the Paris Center building and using it to operate before school, after school, school day out and summer enrichment programs.
The arrangement “provides much needed and very high quality programming in the community while saving taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars,” Archer said Tuesday.
He noted that residents providing input in 2014 to a consultant developing a master plan for the parks and recreation department suggested it explore and establish more partnerships with local schools and the private sector, while sharing facilities and seeking sponsorships to help generate funding.
The program at the Paris Center building “hugely increased attendance at the center and provides a service to an age group that is often overlooked as still needing positive programming and guidance,” Archer said.
Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.