By Justin Fulcher
The life of children is a rough one in many communities. With that, there are places created to offer the kids a place to go after school for homework help and even recreational activities. One of greatest places is called Challengers Boys and Girls Club. It was established in 1968 and has continued growing from then on from the back of a pickup truck to the huge facility that they have now. The founder, Lou Dantzler, had a vision to take young men from single parent households and make them into a prospering member of society instead of a person on the streets. The title of his book “A Place to Go, a Place to Grow: Simple Things That Make a Difference to At-Risk Kids” summarized what Challengers has done for many people both children, as well, as adult. Located on South Vermont Avenue stands the facility called Challengers Boys and Girls Club. It takes up the whole block. It has a track as well as a field for soccer and football, and then there are tennis courts and a charter school, a snack bar, Auditorium, gym, radio and video centers, arts and crafts, three game rooms and much more. There are hands full of people that visit and they always say that this place has just about everything to offer everyone. From being a member for over twelve years, I have come to terms that this is the place everyone should attend for a vision into what you would want to do in the future. “Always something to do and always a place to go,” as stated by a ten year old boy that goes to the club. With many people always in a program and always having a smile on their face because of all the fun they are having, with many of them never wanting to leave. The view of the club is it is an amazing place, full of activities and fun things to do with very amazing things to try. Going to the club is an experience from many; the age range goes from six years old on to 18 years of age. The children always have a smile on their faces unless they just fell or tripped after chasing someone around the basketball court. Almost every nationality is represented there and they all have friends showing a friendly and inviting environment. The staff members of the place are always prepared to respond to a variety of problems that may possibly end up occurring whether it is the occasional scab or just someone that is too shy to talk to the other kids. Then the club has become so successful because the parent of the child attending is required to volunteer one hour a week for the club.
With plenty of help being given in a variety of ways toward Challengers, the non-profit place has survived everything from ferocious lightning storms and earthquakes to the Watts Riots where most of the community was destroyed. If anything this shows that this is an important place that can and will stand till the end of time. This is very much valued by the community that surrounds it.
Personally I was always in video making some type of movie or video using Final Cut Pro or I was in radio hanging out. Most of the kids love the Home Economics program for the same reason I did, because you get to eat everything you make. Always a good smell coming from that room especially on Thursdays when this program called Common Threads comes to teach cooking classes with recipes from around the world. This not only enabled them with the ability to cook but it also gave them cultural connections with the world. There is also a program sponsored by Bank of America called Money Matters, where they teach the teenagers how to open a bank account, and the majority of things and responsibilities that come with that account. It even gets down to the point of managing a credit card. There’s Passport to Manhood which teaches and prepares young men for adulthood and future planning. Along with many other programs Challengers has effectively changed the lives of many. Lou believed that