Blackwell Youth Center to offer after-school program

by Charles Gerian

The Blackwell Youth Center is offering a way for children in the first grade and up to get a little extra “help” outside of the classroom in the form of an after-school tutoring program, which will be held every Monday and Thursday from 3:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Denise Hindman, director of the BYC, sat behind the kitchen counter of the local hangout on a rainy Thursday afternoon, waiting for over 30 children to arrive from Blackwell Elementary School to get the tutoring they needed. Six tutors worked to set up tables as children arrived.

“I actually got the idea on a day like this,” Hindman said. “It was a cold, rainy day, and I was driving home and saw a little boy walking through the puddles. I pulled over and asked [him] what he was doing, and offered to give him a ride home . … It was then that I sort of realized that Blackwell needs something for these kids after school, because you never realize just how many of these kids end up going home to nobody. [They] just sit there until mom, dad, grandma, or whoever can get home.”

To participate in the program, children are being bussed to the BYC thanks to Blackwell Public Schools. Hindman praised the school district for being so supportive of the program.

At the BYC, students can join their respective study groups, which are given trendy names like “Fortnite,” “PUBG,” and “Girl Power,” among others. Then, they bring out their homework and work with their tutors on subjects like math, reading, science, and any other subjects with which they need assistance.

“We meet every Thursday and Monday unless school is out. When school is out, we don't meet” said Hindman. “We're always looking for more kids and more people to help. I have a few high school seniors here, and we're always wanting retired teachers, high school seniors, and anyone else who can lend a hand to help these kids out.”

Hindman said she is also reaching out to Oklahoma State University to see if student-teachers there can get involved with what she called a “learning and credential-lending experience.”

In other news, the BYC is gearing up to host its annual Valentine's Day semi-formal dances. The dance for elementary school students will be held February 15 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m., and the dance for middle school students will be February 16 from 7 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. For both dances, the admission charge is $5 per person.

In the near future, the BYC will be looking to start a mentor/mentee program with the Blackwell police and fire departments. Hindman is also asking high school seniors to be a part of the BYC's community service program.

Those interested in the after-school tutoring program or the senior-staffed community service program are encouraged to text Hindman at 580-363-8517.

The BYC accepts donations. For more information about donating, contact Hindman.