One of the city's long-standing organizations for children will be re-opening its doors next week.

The Paris branch of the Boys & Girls Club, located at 717 N 5th St, Paris, responds to county residents' needs during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

CEO Elaina Damante said that Covid19 has had a considerable impact on the Club and since they follow the Paris School District lead when it comes to closings, the Club shut down when school was closed in mid-March.

"At that time, we were averaging 80 kids per day attending our after school program. We had to find new ways to serve our members without being able to see them every day or come in contact with them."

Damante said that the Club started serving To-Go Meals on March 25 and since that time has served approximately 2300 meals to families with children under 18, averaging 50 meals per day.

The Club has decided to re-open for its summer program to provide a place for children ages 6 and 11 to enjoy physical activities and mentoring during the summer. Starting on Monday, June 8, the Club will be open from 8. a.m. to 6 p.m Monday through Friday.

The summer program will run until July 31, with the week of June 29 closed for cleaning and to observe the 4th of July holiday.

Opening amid a pandemic requires new safety strategies, but Club staff will abide by all protocols necessary to re-open the Club for the community.

"We are having to change some of our programs to abide by social distancing protocols, but we will be providing as many of the same programs as possible. This includes one on one mentoring, Power Hour (educational games, puzzles, and high yield learning activities), technology skills and physical education activities. We will also have cooking classes, arts and crafts, DIY Stem and science activities."

Due to Covid-19, the Club is limiting the number of memberships it will accept this summer. To request a membership, participants will need to fill out the eligibility form on the Club website at https://www.bgcdiamondhills.org/membership-2.

Membership will be broken into semesters with semester 1 running from June 8 - June 26 at the cost of $65 per child and semester 2 running from July 6 - July 31 at the cost of $85 per child.

Damante said that not all children who register will be able to attend and that priority will be given to children of essential workers.

The Paris Boys and Girls Club will not be offering summer sports due to the AAA guidelines during the pandemic, and all sports are canceled until further notice.

"We don't have a timeline of when the community can expect to see sports being offered, but we are continuously monitoring all updates from AAA and will offer them as soon as it is deemed safe to do so."

The Club is also undergoing staff changes and new staff will be in place by the re-opening date.

For more information about the Boys & Girls Club summer program, contact the Club at (479) 963-3577 or CEO, Elaina Damante, at 479-430-8949.

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