Though the Boys and Girls Club has been around since 1966, their main goal has remained the same: to provide a safe and healthy space for kids to spend time in after school, before school, or during summer break. By combining activities, athletics, learning, and now sustainability through healthy eating and cooking classes, the BGCSD has taken their mission to the next level.
The Boys & Girls Club of San Dieguito’s recent shift towards sustainability has already made a positive impact. Vegetable gardens have been created in two different locations, Encinitas (the grand opening of which will be celebrated this Friday) and Solana Beach. Encinitas’s new pride and joy will be a half acre and filled with several types of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Kids will get the chance to go into the gardens and pick and wash their own vegetables, then take them inside and learn how to cook them in different ways through a new program, the “Youth Culinary Academy.”
The classes will provide realistic and entertaining culinary school training for the kids with a hands-on approach; traditional cooking techniques, theories, history, and practice will all be covered in an industrial working kitchen. The “garden to table” mentality will be at the forefront of the teaching, as almost all dishes will incorporate the freshly harvested produce from the garden.
The garden plot in Solana Beach is adjacent to a small yellow cottage where the kids can sit and eat in the shade; the kitchen shown above is already in full use, providing ample space for cooking demonstrations and healthy eating workshops. Outdoor activities abound, and the competition-ready pool is a testament to their dedication to exercise. The aquatic program is extensive and capable, and they offer beginner classes, competitive swimming training, and master swimming. There’s a basketball court in the back, and plenty of open space indoors perfect for group activities.
The employees at BGCSD also, when necessary, serve as mentors to the kids. More than 50% come from divorced homes and sometimes find themselves needing to talk to someone after school. The adults that work directly with the kids on a day-to-day basis treasure the ability to foster such trusting relationships, and recognize that kind of rapport is vital to maintaining a successful care space.
The cener’s new theme is “Center for a Healthy Lifestyle,” which began in Encinitas and that they hope to pass on to the rest of their locations with the development of new outdoor spaces and cultivating organic produce. With a fully sustainable garden, a commercial kitchen, and plenty of outdoor activities already in two of the San Dieguito locations, the “healthy lifestyle” seems to already be in full swing.
For more information on the newest additions to the Boys & Girls Club San Dieguito chapters, visit centerforahealthylifestyle.org.
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