Boys & Girls Club event a success story at Odyssey Elementary

Oct 12 2013 - 5:21pm

Images

Children participate in a ring toss Friday, October 11, 2013, during the Lights On after-school carnival for participants and their families. The event was sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Children play around a bounce house during the Lights On after-school carnival Friday, October 11, 2013, at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden, Utah. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Marco Zalvan competes in a doughnut-eating contest at the carnival. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Eamoni Astrada has his face painted by Sydnie Talbot, a volunteer from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward in North Ogden. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Children participate in a ring toss Friday, October 11, 2013, during the Lights On after-school carnival for participants and their families. The event was sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Children play around a bounce house during the Lights On after-school carnival Friday, October 11, 2013, at Odyssey Elementary School in Ogden, Utah. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Marco Zalvan competes in a doughnut-eating contest at the carnival. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)
Eamoni Astrada has his face painted by Sydnie Talbot, a volunteer from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward in North Ogden. (NICK SHORT/Standard-Examiner)

OGDEN -- As Michael Jackson's "Thriller" blared over the loudspeaker Friday afternoon at Odyssey Elementary, students squealed, ran onto the gym floor and started up the moves that go with the song.

The kids had been practicing the dance all week at their after-school club and were excited to perform it for the packed crowd at the annual "Lights On" after-school fair sponsored by the Boys & Girls Club.

This is the second year that the Odyssey site director Kyrie Oliver and her staff -- mostly Weber State University students -- have put on a free fair for families in the Odyssey community.

Students and parents filled their plates with free dinner items, including pizza, tacos and tamales, while activities like bounce houses, pumpkin painting, a fish pond and cake walk were filled with children.

Students also proudly displayed "crazy" hairstyles created by volunteers learning hair design at Marinello Schools of Beauty and showed off face-paint designs created by volunteers from a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ward in North Ogden.

Various entities donated 90 percent of the food and events, Oliver said.

She said the event is offered not only to publicize the success of after-school programs for youths, but also to give the community a fun event for this time of year.

Every school day until 5:30 p.m., Oliver and her staff teach around 110 Odyssey students in the after-school program.

About three years ago, the program moved to Odyssey from the Marshall White Center in downtown Ogden. It has more than doubled in size since then.

Oliver figures about 160 kids and family members were participating in the carnival.

Jeannie Hall is on the Board of Directors for the Weber Boys & Girls Club, which has chapters in Roy and at Odyssey. She said events such as the carnival bring awareness to what the club can offer the community.

She would love to have more space to make the club even bigger.

Hall said she is impressed with the work of the staff at the Odyssey location. Many staff members attend Weber State University and want to give back to their community by giving elementary students a "leg up" to be successful, she said.

Oliver agrees. "My staff are 100 percent Spanish speakers, so they can communicate with the families and the students here."

She said the program is successful because of the hard work by everyone involved.

"We want to make this a place where the kids are welcome and parents know their children are safe and happy," she said.

Natasha Sant's son Cisco Martinez started attending the Boys & Girls Club this year and has loved it. Sant said she loves the idea of the carnival.

"I think it's awesome that the whole community can come. It's a really cool thing."

Sant said Cisco often gets help with his homework and receives a healthful snack every day at the after-school program.

Eight-year-old Cynthia Quiterio, with a big smile on her face, carefully painted a heart on a pumpkin. She couldn't decide what she liked best about the carnival because she was having so much fun.

Her parents weren't there yet, but she knew they would participate with her in the events once they got home from work.

Meanwhile, Kahm Jones grinned at her son as he waited in line at the fish pond.

"I love it," she said of the event. "I'm so happy they do things like this for the kids."

Her son also just started attending the Boys & Girls Club this year and is sad on the days he doesn't get to attend.

"He always wants to go," she said.

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