South County Beat: Boys and Girls Clubs keep South County kids on track

Teenaged boys who come to the Boys and Girls Clubs of South San Luis Obispo County look forward each week to cross-fit training outside.

A trainer comes to volunteer each Thursday and pushes the boys hard so that by the end of the hour, they are bushed. But they love it.

Meanwhile, a yoga instructor volunteers to lead the girls in yoga inside the club, located in Oceano.

These instructors, along with other volunteers, help immensely to serve as role models for young people who often come from families with low income and little education. “There’s always something to hold them back,” said Moyses Muguira, executive director of the club.

He cited parents who speak only Spanish, parents who work hard at low-income jobs, often recruiting older daughters to care for the younger siblings, parents with little education who can’t help the teens with their homework, and gangs in the neighborhood.

“We tell them success is hard, it’s supposed to be hard. We know everyone in the neighborhood and we talk to the teens in a very direct fashion,” when they need it, Muguira said.

Activities at the club include pool, pingpong, arts and crafts, video games on a big-screen TV and learning about nutrition, cooking and gardening.

A lively game of pingpong was in progress with Muguira and three of the boys when I was there one recent afternoon.

Two of the girls were on the club laptops doing their homework. Most of the teens do not have computers at home, making it hard to keep up with assignments in school.

There is a strong emphasis on academics and homework because as Muguira says, “School is the only thing you can control ... it will get them a stable income. ... There is not a lot of control in their lives.”

The teens also go on field trips, such as sailing at Santa Margarita Lake, golfing once a week at Monarch Dunes in Nipomo, going to the snow each year (snowboarding and skiing), baseball games, and taking part in a triathlon of swimming, biking and hiking.

There are five sites for the Boys and Girls Club: Oceano and Grover Heights elementary schools, Judkins Middle School, Bellevue-Santa Fe Charter School in Avila Beach, and the Oceano center for teens ages 12 to 18. Each site has a clubhouse.

Students in all the clubs will host the second annual National Fine Arts Exhibit Program in December.

Any artwork submitted will be displayed in the categories of drawing, pastel, watercolor, painting, print-making, collage, mixed media and sculpture.

This will take place on Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at the Boys &Girls Club at 1839 19th St., Oceano. The community is invited.

This is the first year for Back a Youth Day, where members of the community are asked to pair up with a teen for an hour.

They will play carnival-type games, eat hot dogs, ask the teens questions and hang out.

The board of directors will recruit community members, who will pay $35 on Dec. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Boys &Girls Clubs of South San Luis Obispo County fill an essential role in the lives of neighborhood teens and children.

For information, call Muguira at 481-7339 or go to www.bgcslo.org.