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Third Boys & Girls Club location will open near Ridgeway Elementary

Thursday, May 8, 2014 | 7:12 p.m. CDT; updated 6:19 p.m. CDT, Friday, May 9, 2014

COLUMBIA — The Boys & Girls Club of Columbia will open a third location May 16 at 7 E. Sexton Road, next to John C. Ridgeway Elementary School.

The space currently houses a different after-school program, The Intersection, which plans to merge with the Boys & Girls Club. There are 30 children enrolled in The Intersection, and after the merger, the location will serve 50 to 100 kids at a time. Although the space is next to an elementary school, any school-age child  can enroll.

Valorie Livingston, the executive director of Boys & Girls Club of Columbia, hopes their new branch will boost citywide enrollment in the program to 600 children by the end of the year. So far, the program's 2014 enrollment is 250, she said.

The programs at Sexton Road will focus on academics, like helping students read at grade-level, Livingston said. The programs will also emphasize healthy living, good decision-making and community involvement. This space will join the other two Boys & Girls Club locations to run an eight-week summer program.

Livingston hopes to coordinate the new location's programs with Ridgeway Elementary.

The Boys & Girls Club is funded by grants, the United Way, the City of Columbia and fundraising, Livingston said. She hopes merging with The Intersection will give it a healthy donor base, too.

"It's just a win-win for everyone," she said.

The other Boys & Girls Club locations are 1200 N. Seventh Street, behind Hickman High School, and at 5801 Arbor Pointe Parkway, in Alpha Hart Lewis Elementary School. They served 400 students in 2013.

The Boys& Girls Club has operated in Columbia for more than 16 years, and enrollment has grown each year, Livingston said. The wait list is about 50 to 100 students long, she said.

Such a long wait list isn't necessarily a bad thing, Columbia Public Schools spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said. "That means people in the community are taking advantage of the resources and positive opportunities these programs provide."

The Columbia Housing Authority plans to develop housing near Ridgeway Elementary, which will create even greater need for the program, Livingston said .

The grand opening will begin at 4 p.m. on May 16 with a Chamber of Commerce ribbon cutting. Refreshments and tours of the new facility will be available until 6 p.m.


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