Leadership Ascension helps bring the Boys & Girls Club to Ascension Parish

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Among those at The Boys & Girls Club Pathway to Ascension check presentation, from left to right, Joseph Gaudin of Shell Geismar; Assistant Principal Lydia Mabile of Lowery Elementary, Rick Jones of Neighbors Federal Credit Union, Principal Karen Daigle of Lowery Elementary; Pat Van Burkleo of The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge; John Daigle of CF Industries; Mayor Leroy Sullivan of the City of Donaldsonville; Barker Dirmann of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce.

The Ascension Chamber's Leadership Ascension Program, in partnership with The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge, Lowery Elementary and community stakeholders, has facilitated the implementation of the first Boys & Girls Club After School Program in Ascension Parish.

Starting at the beginning of the 2019 – 2020 school year, The Boys & Girls Club program will host a pilot After School Program for 30 children attending Lowery Elementary. The After School Program will follow an established curriculum for youth development that is proven to increase the academic success, character/citizenship, and healthy lifestyle of the participants.

Recognizing the need for additional after school services for children living in the more underserved areas of Ascension Parish, the Leadership Ascension project team, The Boys & Girls Club Pathway to Ascension, took on the challenge of enabling The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge to house their first After School Program in Ascension Parish. Lowery Elementary was chosen to host the pilot program based on the school's demographics and the strong support of the Lowery administration and community leaders.

"We are constantly looking for ways to enrich learning experiences for our students," said Lowery Elementary Principal Karen Daigle. "Having The Boys & Girls Club at our school, interacting with our kids in a less traditional environment, will supplement the exceptional work my teachers are already doing."

Statistics show that Boys & Girls Club members out perform their peers on standardized test, like the LEAP, while third grade club members show a growth of three months on their reading levels.

"For years we have been looking for ways to expand club services into Ascension because we know our programs produce positive outcomes for our club members," said Pat Van Burkleo the President of The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Baton Rouge. "We are excited to implement this pilot After School Program and hope it plants the seed for additional club services in the parish."

Without the support of business partners like CF Industries, Shell, Grace Hebert architects, Rubicon, BASF, Neighbors Federal Credit Union, Methanex, and Epic Piping bringing The Boys & Girls Club to Ascension would still be just an idea. An advisory committee made up of founding members and community stakeholders will be formed to oversee program implementation at Lowery Elementary and will explore opportunities to expand Boys & Girls Club services throughout Ascension Parish.

Contributed by the Ascension Chamber of Commerce