Originally published April 24, 2019 in the Texarkana Gazette.

By Ashley Gardner

The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club will soon be adding sports to its line-up of activities. The club recently hired a sports director who will be starting soon.

“We’re at the very beginning of it. We’re just getting started,” said Maj. David Feeser, Salvation Army commander. “We should be starting within the next week or so.”

The first activities implemented will be physical education for the kids in the after-school program.

“Physical education is actually one of the core concentrations for the Boys & Girls Club. He’ll bring that to the after-school activities. Then we’re going to start looking at sports leagues and other physical activities he’s going to head up,” he said.

The first sports they’re looking at starting include flag football, soccer and basketball.

“We have the equipment we need to start. Those sports aren’t too equipment intensive,” Feeser said.

In addition to improving physical health, physical education and sports teach kids some valuable life lessons.

“Physical education is a very important part of well-being for growth and maturity. Getting them outside is healthy because some kids want to stay inside on their phones, games or watching TV. So there’s that aspect for health and well-being but there’s also character building and leadership. They’re learning to operate within a team. Giving back to a team teaches them about giving back to society. It teaches those kind of leadership and character building traits. Hopefully they develop them young enough that when they get older, they do it without thinking and it becomes a part of their lives,” he said.

Adding sports to the roster at the club is possible because of the move to the old C.K. Bender Elementary School building in August of last year. The move allowed the Boys & Girls Club to expand its reach and services and increased the number of children who could participate in the program.

“The new location is fantastic. We’ve got plenty of space and it gives us the ability to implement things we would have never been able to do in the old location because it was too small. It’s been a blessing and nothing but positive for us,” Feeser said.

They are currently seeing 50 to 60 participants each afternoon and they have approximately 100 members.

“We’ve got kids coming in. Our daily attendance is pretty high compared to our membership. The kids are coming back. That’s one of the ways we’re able to track the quality of our program,” he said.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club and enrolling in the program call the Salvation Army at 870-774-2701.

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