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October 12, 2012


Boys & Girls Club Torch Club wins national award

ATLANTA, Ga. — The pre-teen character and leadership program at the Boys & Girls Club of Fort McCoy has been recognized with a Staples Torch Club Award from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and the Staples Foundation. The organization’s Torch Club was honored for excellence in health-and-fitness programming for its members, who are ages 11-13.
PHOTO: Members of the Torch Club pose with the plaque they received for winning the Staples Torch Club Award. Contributed photo
Dustin Lakowske, Fort McCoy Child, Youth & School Services staff member, and youth from the Torch Club pose with the plaque they received for winning a national Staples Torch Club Award. 
(Contributed photo )

Torch Clubs are small groups within Boys & Girls Clubs that encourage positive self-esteem and personal growth, build communication skills, reinforce academic achievement, and encourage the development of conscientious citizenship. The Torch Club mission is to motivate pre-teens to become role models and ambassadors for promoting good character, tolerance, diversity and inclusion among peers. Support from the Staples Foundation enables BGCA to continue to provide training, programming and support to help meet the needs of pre-teens at this critical stage in their development.

The Staples Torch Club Award for health and fitness recognizes programs that help club members understand the importance of good health habits and teach them to take responsibility for their own physical well-being. The Fort McCoy Torch Club received second-place honors in the health-and-fitness category and a $1,000 cash prize.

Cori Yahnke, Boys & Girls Club of Fort McCoy program director, said the club intends to use the prize money to purchase items to enhance all aspects of the Youth Center. The youth will continue their health and fitness trends by purchasing sporting equipment, such as volleyballs and basketballs. Some of the funds were used to enhance the educational aspect of the club by purchasing books and educational board games. To add fun social activities, the club purchased LEGOS and art supplies to keep members interested and expand their creativity, Yahnke said.

“Youth Center members made a commitment to being active and healthy for the 2011 Summer Camp program at the club,” Yahnke said. “The purpose of this was to stay healthy and be good role models for the younger members of the club.”

Youth made a plan to spend less time in front of a screen while at the club and more time being active. Even the screen time was made more active through the use of the Xbox Kinect, which allows the members to run, jump, and dance while playing video games.

Youth also discussed healthy eating habits and the importance of drinking water instead of soda. Yahnke said youth started playing volleyball on a regular basis in the afternoons, which helped encourage other club members to get involved.

“Even youth who may not have had a lot of experience playing volleyball were able to join in and have fun learning the basic skills.” Yahnke said, “The character youth showed in involving members of all skill levels was great to see.”

Youth also planned active field trips during the summer vacation, including hiking and a canoe trip.

Yahnke said the youth continued this trend during the 2012 Summer Camp program and made it a fun, active summer as well.

Winners of Torch Club awards are selected based on their creativity, relevance to Torch Club members or the community, and the demonstration of Torch Club members’ character and leadership skills during the project’s planning and execution. Awards are presented in four categories: education; service to club and community; health and fitness; and social recreation.
“The creativity, talent and dedication displayed by the pre-teens who develop and implement these projects is truly inspiring,” said Emily McCann, manager of community relations for Staples. “Through our partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Staples Foundation is proud to support Torch Club and recognize these incredible youth who serve as role models for their peers and make a difference in the community.”

The Boys & Girls Club of Fort McCoy is part of the Fort McCoy Child, Youth, and School (CYS) Services School Age/Youth Center program. The program provides after school, non-school day, and summer camp programming for youth in kindergarten through 12th grades. For more information or to join the CYS Services School Age or Youth Center, call Parent Central Services at 608-388-8956.

(Information from a Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Staples Foundation news release is included in this story.)

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