Education

Mom seeks Boys & Girls Club for children in Forsyth

Tanya Edwards’ son may not be old enough to go to an after-school or summer program, but she didn’t think it was too early to start bringing one to Monroe County.

She hopes that 14-month-old Jakyle Akins will benefit from the time she’s spent pursuing that goal.

“I look at it as trying to get something for his future,” she said.

For now, Edwards is working towards a Boys & Girls Club that other children will enjoy. She said a petition in the community has more than 100 signatures, while an online petition has another 40 or so.

Those names include people across the socioeconomic spectrum, Edwards said.

“I’ve been getting a lot of positive feedback from people of all kinds,” she said.

As part of her efforts, Edwards spoke with Forsyth City Councilman Melvin Lawrence, who said the city has discussed such an endeavor before. He said the club would be beneficial during the summer months in particular.

“Especially during the holidays and the breaks, ... they don’t really have that much to do,” he said.

The city’s role could be on the funding side of the program, Lawrence said.

“We’re looking into it now, as far as financing and et cetera.”

That funding has been a sticking point in past efforts to get a Boys & Girls Club going in Forsyth, City Manager Janice Hall said. In her 22 years with the city, the need to provide a building and staff has held up discussions on several occasions.

“We’ve never been able to come up with the funding to do anything,” she said.

One idea was to build a youth center that would also house a Boys & Girls Club. This time around, though, Hall said she hasn’t been approached about any plans.

“A Boys & Girls Club would be wonderful in Forsyth and Monroe County,” she said.

Edwards said she hasn’t gotten to the point of getting the school system involved either, but teachers and other district employees are among those who have signed the petition and support the idea.

There are options in surrounding counties, but Edwards doesn’t see where that’s good enough.

“One lady, she said she has to take her kid to a camp in Macon,” Edwards said. “She’s like, ‘Why should I have to do that?’ ”

Other families might have caretakers such as grandparents for their children during the summer. While that is certainly an asset, those arrangements might include a healthy dose of television or other activities that don’t engage kids’ bodies or minds the way an organized program would, Edwards said.

“They need something to keep their minds stimulated through the summer.”

Edwards expects to take her pitch to an upcoming Monroe County Board of Commissioners’ meeting. The next one is scheduled for 9 a.m. Tuesday.

To contact writer Jeremy Timmerman, call 744-4331 or find him on Twitter @MTJTimm.

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