Beth Reitz is the executive director of the Ponoka Youth Centre, an umbrella organization that includes the BGC of Wolf Creek which serves Ponoka, Rimbey and now Lacombe.
photo submitted

Beth Reitz is the executive director of the Ponoka Youth Centre, an umbrella organization that includes the BGC of Wolf Creek which serves Ponoka, Rimbey and now Lacombe. photo submitted

BGC (formerly Boys and Girls Club) opens its doors in Lacombe next month

An after-school program, packed with activities, kicks off Sept. 8

This fall, BGC of Wolf Creek Lacombe will open its doors with programming geared towards supporting local youth.

Formerly known as the Boys and Girls Club, the new branch of the organization will run at the Ecole Lacombe Upper Elementary School.

Beth Reitz is the executive director of the Ponoka Youth Centre, which is the current legal name of an umbrella organization that includes the BGC of Wolf Creek which serves Ponoka, Rimbey and now Lacombe.

“There are 659 BGC locations across Canada,” said Reitz.

“We have a pretty high standard of programming that we follow – and the intent is always that it provides safe, supportive places where young people can experience new opportunities, and develop confidence and skills for life.

“We’ve seen extensive benefits to it across Ponoka and Rimbey over the years – we’ve been in Ponoka for 20 years and in Rimbey for about eight,” she explained. “It’s an all-encompassing program.”

Here in Lacombe, the main program being offered this fall is an after-school program where kids can take part in lots of fun activities, indoor and outdoor play, and enjoy some snacks, too.

This program starts Sept. 8, will run Monday through Friday from 3:15 to 5:30 p.m. and is for youth from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

As mentioned, it’s going to be located at the Upper Elementary School, but a supervised meeting location at J.S. McCormick School is also available.

For more information or to register, call 403-704-4126 or email admin@BGCWolfcreek.com.

As Reitz pointed out, the after-school program is really just the beginning – the organization has much in the works to serve the Lacombe community.

“We are starting with the out-of-school care program and building our way up. But the intent is to build (the programming) – to be a place in Lacombe where kids can go if they need anything, and for parents to know it’s a safe place for their kids to be,” she said.

Another program available in Lacombe will be the School’s Out Day Program which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. during the school year and includes life-skills instruction, leadership training, recreation, field trips and other planned activities on Professional Development days, school breaks and ‘in lieu’ days for schools.

Government subsidies are available for BGC programming as well.

In the meantime, Reitz said that based on feedback from both the kids and their parents over the years, there is no doubt BGC is having a positive impact.

“We collect feedback from alumni and also from kids that now have their own kids in our programs. And it’s always the same – they say it was a place where, if they didn’t have another place to go, that’s where they went! And that they knew, regardless of anything, that they could go to the BGC and get help – no matter what.

“It was also a place where they really learned to have adult mentors and people who could help get them to where they needed to be,” she added.

For Reitz, the expansion to Lacombe is also that much more special as she resides here.

“For me, it’s great to see it coming into my home community. I’m really excited to see something that will grow and support the community and the kids,” she added.

“We also don’t want anyone to think we are coming in to try and replace something that already exists – that’s really important to us – we want to work with what is already there,” she noted of the benefits of community ties and collaboration.

“We have no interest in duplicating services in any manner. It’s all about what the community needs, and filling that need.”

She encourages parents who have any questions to reach out.

“We will do whatever we can to make it work for every family.”

For more information, follow them on Facebook at ‘BGC Wolf Creek – Lacombe’ or check out www.lacombe.bgcwolfcreek.com.