The old adage states, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County, we see the truth in that statement and work to support the young people of Utah Valley as they grow and develop. We stand with Nelson Mandela when he stated, “Any society which does not care for its children is no nation at all.” In our great nation, there is a considerable amount of care given to youth, but as times change the efforts to support children, especially those who may lack opportunities and resources afforded to their peers, must increase.

Think of the different aspects of the Utah County “village” that commonly work to help raise children: families, neighborhoods, schools, religious organizations, after school programs, community organizations, city-sponsored—or sometimes county and/or state—initiatives and programs like sports leagues and libraries, and more. The list could go on and on. In this setting where so many people are invested in helping children secure bright futures along the path to adulthood, it is so crucial that these groups work together.

One of the unifying factors in the endeavor to raise these children might surprise you. It’s homework.

That’s right. Homework is a tool that can connect schools and after school programs, help build a bridge between those educational settings and families, support youth development, and engage students in an expanded array of opportunities—academically and beyond. (Korbin and Lucas 50)

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County are grateful to have a strong connection with local schools and districts. This bond is strengthened by employing professional educators as site directors at many of our ten program sites. These individuals—and all of our site directors, in fact—make a great impact in fostering collaborative relationships with schools in the area.

“Students are not the only ones whose stress levels rise with homework,” Korbin and Lucas point out. Today’s society indicates an increase in the number of single parents and dual-income families, for whom “the demands of home life leave little time for parents to offer homework help.” (51) Especially for young people lacking homework support, getting behind in a school subject or not understanding something while doing their homework can lead to huge problems. Together with schools and after school programs, young people are given another venue in which to explore, ask questions, and gain greater understanding and mastery of the subjects they study.

Homework overload not only leads to issues with questions and misunderstandings of course materials, but also can lead to sleep-loss. When homework competes with sleep, student performance suffers, as do overtired parents. (Korbin and Lucas 51) Helping students complete their homework and understand the subject matter not only empowers them and opens more doors; it also helps their parents and reduces stress levels for both parents and students.

Our after school programs provide young people with greater academic support and a chance to explore a variety of topics and develop new interests.

“The enrichment opportunities offered on top of homework support help students see how they can apply what they’re learning to real-life situations, build confidence through the mastery of new talents or completion of significant projects, and understand connections between what they are doing now and their future possibilities.” (Korbin and Lucas 52)

This fulfilling work isn’t something we do alone. In order to run these programs, we need to reach the young people who will benefit from our help, volunteers to help our staff, particularly with the homework portions of our programs, and donations—both monetary and in-kind—that make our programs possible.

Currently our South Franklin Teen site, Walden (K-5) and Walden Teen (high school students) sites, Mountain Trails Elementary site, Amelia Earhart site, and Aristotle Academy site are in particular need of volunteers willing to come in for at least one hour a week for a few months (preferably more, if you have the time. For information about each site click here). Just a few hours of your time can make a huge difference for these young people.

Our invitation to everyone is to be a part of the village raising the youth of Utah County. Together, we can provide valuable opportunities and open doors to great futures.

Works Cited:

Korbin, Jennifer, Natalie Lucas. “Well-Designed Homework Time as a Quality-Building Aid in Afterschool.” Expanding Minds and Opportunities: Leveraging the Power of Afterschool and Summer Learning for Student Success. Washington DC: Collaborative Communications Group, 2013. Print. 49-55.