08:59 AM

Community Impact: Boys & Girls Club of Lanier

When students enter one of the 15 locations hosting the Boys & Girls Club of Lanier, they’re not just learning the academic and character development skills they need to succeed – they’re also learning how to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Through the club’s Triple Play program, youth members are learning how to eat smart, stay fit and form positive relationships. Members receive coaching in sports leagues and fun activities – while also staying physically active and learning to make good choices about nutrition.

“Triple Play is one of our core programs,” said Joyce Wilson, chief development offi cer for the Boys & Girls Club of Lanier (formerly called the Boys & Girls Club of Hall County). “All Boys & Girls Clubs try to incorporate Triple Play in their daily programming.”

Thanks to a $14,800 grant from the Jackson EMC Foundation, the Gainesville-based club is providing staff resources to support Triple Play across its locations. This school year, the program is expected to serve more than 1,000 students a day, according to Wilson.

“A lot of the kids we serve don’t have exposure to a variety of healthy activities,” Wilson said. A 2012 study in Hall County estimated that almost 40 percent of youth in the county are obese. Almost all of the youth served by the Boys & Girls Club of Lanier qualify for free or reduced price meals at their schools. The primary goal of the Triple Play program is to reduce childhood obesity.

During Triple Play, club members learn how to make their own healthy meals. Staff members and other professionals educate club members about nutrition, including how to read food labels and pick healthier foods. “One girl went home and started talking about making healthier food choices with her parents,” Wilson said. “The girl told us her parents are now also making healthier choices.”

Triple Play is also exposing club members to physical activities they may not otherwise experience, Wilson said. Club members have played lacrosse, taken dance lessons and even learned about boxing. Students participate in at least 45 minutes of physical activity each day at the club.

“We are extremely grateful for the support our kids receive from the Jackson EMC Foundation,” Wilson said.