By Interactive Metronome - August 30, 2012

Featured in the News: Boys & Girls Clubs good for kids, local economy, study says

By Hannah Guzik 

Special to The Star 

Posted August 23, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.

A seven-year study of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme shows the after-school program has improved the academic and personal outlook for the hundreds of children taking part, many of whom are at risk.

The California Lutheran University study, released Wednesday, was designed to quantify the impact the program has in the region as the club searches for money to implement new programs for low-income students.
According to the study’s author, Jamshid Damooei, chairman of the economics, finance and accounting department at CLU, every $1 invested in Ventura County youths has a return of $12 for the community.
“There’s nothing more productive than investing in children,” he said. “They are the grown-ups of the future, and if you want a higher quality of life and a stronger Oxnard and Ventura County, invest in the children.”
Damooei released his findings at a presentation to school officials, community leaders, investors and volunteers, including professional football player Keary Colbert, at the club’s Oxnard headquarters on Fifth Street.
Jeff Henley, chairman of the board of technology firm Oracle and member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America board of governors, told the three dozen audience members he thinks investing in children yields the highest returns.
“We have a crisis in America, and I really believe that the key is our young people and the key is education,” he said. “We have a lot of kids in the lower third socioeconomically, but we’re proving that we can take these kids and make them successful.”
The CLU study, conducted from 2004-11, consisted of surveys of students in the club, their parents, teachers and school principals. Researchers asked questions about academic motivation, classroom behavior and social skills. The overwhelming majority of respondents said that since participating in the club’s after-school program, the students had markedly improved grades, attendance, behavior and self-confidence, at school and home.
“There is a positive impact of the program on the economic well-being of the families,” Damooei said. “The program allows parents to keep their jobs and attend school in order to improve their education and skills and thus reach a better level of economic and social existence.”
According to the evaluation, 93.4 percent of the students who participate in after-school programs reported enjoying the activities offered and said the staff’s support makes them feel more at ease. The report found that 69.2 percent of students also said they found a mentor through the programs.
Researchers found that 94.6 percent of parents reported they depend on the program every day and that 94.2 percent thought their children were safe in the after-school programs.
The Oxnard and Port Hueneme clubs serve 7,200 youths year-round.
The nonprofit is trying to raise money for its programs and implement a new learning module Henley is helping to finance.
Henley, a Santa Barbara resident who participated in the organization as a youth, and Sherrie Hardy, founder of Hardy Brain Camp in Camarillo, have developed a computer program they think helps speed up brain processing time to allow students to finish schoolwork faster. The program has especially helped students who are struggling in school or have been diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or autism, Hardy said.
“If we can get kids in the early years of elementary school and retrain their brains and improve their attention and focus, the effects of that will be lifelong,” she said.
Hardy and Henley implemented the first pilot study of their new program at the club in 2009 and have now trained 500 students in Oxnard and Port Hueneme. They hope to expand the program, which requires students to clap or tap their feet to a metronome that measures their accuracy, to area schools and clubs nationwide.
After listening to the presentations, Rio School District Superintendent John Puglisi said he supports the Boys & Girls Clubs’ after-school program but is waiting to see the results of a study on the metronome training before he endorses it.
“What I think the club does well is teaching kids common-sense stuff that they may not learn at home or in the classroom, such as how to have solid relationships and integrate what they’re learning in school into the real world,” he said. “That kind of informal learning is very valuable.”
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