CLINTON, Tenn. — A year ago, school systems around the U.S. were bringing students back to class. In East Tennessee, many parents were finding it hard to find after-school care available near them.
In Clinton, the need for childcare was huge. In an attempt to help, the Boys and Girls Club started an after-school program. Tuesday, exactly 1 year later, they celebrated an incredible year of growth.
Students filled the cafeteria of Clinton Elementary School Tuesday afternoon as a representative of the Boys and Girls Club cut pieces of cake. Kids, expectedly, were excited about the cake. But those with the Boys and Girls Club were just excited for the reason behind why they were celebrating.
On their first day in 2020, workers with the new after-school program expected to see around 50 kids. Instead, they saw close to 80.
That number has continued to grow throughout the year. They serve the North Clinton, South Clinton and Clinton Elementary communities. They now have almost 130 students at one of those sites alone.
While a large part of what they do is centered around games and general guidance, they're doing much more than just providing affordable after-school care.
At $25 per week for a child, the Boys and Girls Club of Clinton is offering much more. Kids can play, but they can also get extra tutoring and help with their homework. That's something that Clinton Elementary School art teacher Allison Swanner has taken notice of.
"I know that parents really need that help, especially if they're working parents," Swanner said.
Growing up around the Clinton area, club leader Matthew Queener is happy to be back in town and working with youth.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to finally get back into town here and to get to work with the people I'm so close with and care so much for," said Queener.