HARLINGEN — They’re racing their scooters fast, faster, fastest….the winner.
The rush to be the best is one of many activities children of Harlingen are celebrating during National Boys & Girls Clubs Week.
The organization has five units to serve local children. Each unit has its own schedule of activities to recognize the Boys & Girls Clubs’ decades of service.
“It’s basically kind of a celebration of what we do here day in and day out,” said Gerald Gathright, professional officer for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen.
“It highlights our activities in the community,” Gathright said. “We are having a variety, our regular activities and different special events. We’re having special guest speakers.”
The kids at the Los Vecinos Unit at Lamar Elementary are charging forward in scooter races and tugs of war today, said Estela Castillo, one of the unit directors. Yesterday they flew kites high over the grounds, perhaps to charge their energy in preparation for today’s games.
The week’s activities began Monday with a “free day.”
“They went out on the playground and played any sport they wanted to play,” Castillo said.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen have a broad range of activities for different age groups. They play basketball, volleyball and other sports and even compete in leagues.
They play pool, Jenga and other games, and they also have projects with Legos. They get help with homework after school — tutors assist them with reading, mathematics and other school work — and they enjoy healthy meals.
There’s Power Hour, Triple Play, Smart Moves, Tea Party and a strong sense of community. Leadership organizations teach members how to make a difference in their communities.
For many it’s a beacon of light.
“Many of them have told me if it wasn’t for the Boys & Girls Clubs they don’t know where they’d be,” Castillo said.
Sophie Cantu, youth development organizer at the LeMoyne Gardens Unit, echoed this sentiment.
“It’s a safe haven,” Cantu said. “Many of them come from families where they never finished school. They don’t know how to read.”
At the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen, children have plenty of opportunities to improve their reading with the assistance of tutors.
This week, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Harlingen is celebrating its legacy with guest speakers, health-related activities and other events.
“There’s a lot of arts going on,” Cantu said. “We’ll have speakers talking about different art styles. They are also talking about different ways to improve their health. There’s some dance moves.”
Obviously, there are plenty of moves happening this week in celebration of the Boys & Girls Clubs. Thursday at the Harry Nigro Unit the National Boys and Girls Clubs Family Night will feature plenty of booths, games and prizes.