A $2,500 grant from the Fountain Hills Community Foundation will help fund a national program called Triple Play at the Mary Ellen & Robert McKee Branch of the Scottsdale Area Boys & Girls Club. Branch director Lauren Stratton says the grant provides critical support for the nonprofit organization and the services it offers.

“The fees that we charge only cover 80 percent of the cost for each child and about 30 percent of kids that come here are on some type of financial assistance,” Lauren explained. “Some may attend totally free or pay a percentage, but we don’t turn anybody away.”

The Triple Play program is a wellness program designed to help youth create opportunities to take charge of their personal health and wellness. In addition to physical activity, the program incorporates teamwork, empathy, and problem-solving skills, as well as skills for perseverance, self-efficacy, and identifying emotions.

The McKee Branch will use the FHCF grant to purchase a computer and printer, calculators, timers, sports and recreational equipment, along with classroom supplies in order to help students learn about, create, and model healthy lifestyles in a fun and engaging manner.

The concept for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America began in 1860 when four women saw the need to give boys who were “roaming the streets” a positive alternative. They officially became Boys Clubs of America in 1906, then changed its name to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 1990 to “recognize that girls are a part of our cause.”

The McKee Branch is open after school until 6:30 p.m. as well as during holidays and school recess from 7:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Staff are trained in youth development. Lauren said kids attend for a variety of reasons, from getting help with homework, to spending time with friends, for mentoring, or to play sports.

“Parents often think they don’t qualify. I say ‘do you have a school-age kid? Congrats, you qualify!’ This is not your parents’ boys and girls club. It’s for the Town. We’ve evolved from what we set out to be. No matter what the kids are into, we can find something for them.”