CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - How do you keep kids from getting into trouble after school? According to Everyday Hero Ted Yates, you give them something better to do with their time.
Yates has been a volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Missouri for 20 years. He says when kids are left to their own devices after school, the things they experience don't always leave a positive impression.
"That's when they get into trouble," said Yates. "It's been shown that's when kids get into trouble - between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. Mostly vandalism, or just handing on the streets which then there are older people who take advantage of them and try to use them for whatever purpose. Whether it's drugs or taking advantage of them personally."
Instead, the Boys & Girls Club helps kids find their own purpose.
"They all need a little help and a little push just as I did at their age, just to get through the process of going to school and learning to be who you really are," said Yates.
Everyday after school, kids from all area schools come to the Boys & Girls Club to play sports, get help with homework and learn new things.
"Since I learned a little bit of fractions – we were starting fractions the next week in school, so when we got to that I already knew a little bit about them already," said third grader Lili Sadler, a Boys & Girls Club member.
The things member learn aren't always book lessons. Sometimes they learn valuable life lessons.
"I learned that we are respectful and we need to treat people the way that we want to be treated," said first grader Paula Jo Wigfall Safford.
"Like when I have to take my medicine, people who I should take my medicine with, people I should stay away from, and lots of stuff." said Boys & Girls Club member Aleah Jackson. "So I can do better in life."
Thats’ why Yates has volunteered as a board member for the Boys & Girls Club of Southeast Missouri for two decades. Some of the kids who were members when he strated are now adults. Yates says he’s seen first hand the difference spending time at the Boys & Girls Club can make.
"It's very rewarding to see them go through the Boys and Girls Club and then later in life they become the men and women you would hope," said Yates. "It's very gratifying."
Kids all have their own reasons for enjoying the programs: lessons, sports, or the after-school snacks.
“I like when I go to the gym,” said first grader Jayden Howard.
Yates says it’s all about building confidence in kids so they can accomplish great things as they grow.
“It’s just been a pleasure and an honor for me to be able to serve on the boys and girls club board all this time and to help these young people reach their dreams,” said Yates.
The Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Missouri serves kids at all schools in Cape Girardeau and Scott City.
If you would like to volunteer or donate money to support the Boys & Girls Club programs in your community there are several area chapters.
If you know someone who should be recognized as an Everyday Hero, click here to make your nomination.
We’ll profile an Everyday Hero each month on Heartland News.