*Co-written by guest blogger Mady Katz

Waltham Group has a lot of programs: seventeen at the moment. Oftentimes when students want to volunteer they’re not sure which programs to choose. So, we’re here to tell you a bit more about one program in particular: Kids Connection!

Kids Connection is a branch of Waltham Group which encompasses two youth groups: the Waltham Boys and Girls Club and the Waltham Y.

When volunteers go to the Boys and Girls Club, they put together various activities for the 6 to18 year olds to do. The range of programs includes: sports, arts and crafts, gardening, homework help, and photography. What makes the Boys and Girls Club unique is that for an extremely affordable price they can become members and then partake in whatever activities they want. They can use facilities, which include a playground, a pool, a pool table (part of a larger game room) and more. Volunteers really have an opportunity to bond with the kids one-on-one and form strong relationships with each other. There is usually a lot of laughter involved. All that is required is filling out a few background check forms and making a weekly commitment for an hour and a half.

Onto the Boys and Girls Club’s sister program, the Y! The Y allows kids to use its facilities for a wide variety of activities. The Y has a pool; multiple gyms; yoga, aerobics and other types of fitness classes; and even a rock-climbing wall. Although Kids Connection has been involved with many different programs at the Y over time, this semester we’ve focused on Teen Night, which is a Friday night program exclusively for teens aged 13 to 18. This program is targeted at middle school and high school kids since this age group usually finds itself engaged in less safe activities due to lack of supervision. Another element that makes the Y unique is that Kids Connections coordinators work with the Y’s staff to bring in Brandeis student clubs to perform and interact with the kids, as when Kaos Kids, Brandeis’ hip hop group, performed for the kids in the fall of 2010. Volunteers get to bond with the kids and organize whatever activities they want, and there is not a strict weekly requirement.

Mady Katz is the Boys and Girls Club coordinator and Elly Kalfus is the Y coordinator. Both coordinators are happy to share information or talk with prospective volunteers. For more information, e-mail katzm@brandeis.edu or ekal@brandeis.edu.

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