Providing a safe place for students to learn about their health and wellness after school

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Posted at 9:29 PM, Oct 28, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — Every day of the school year, thousands of kids across the Circle City spend their evenings with leaders from the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis.

"I just feel like they have another home, they have another place to be comfortable, to figure out who they are. It's just another place of support for them," Pamela Lozano said.

Lozano is the Boys and Girls Club's site director at Global Prep Academy in the Riverside neighborhood. When school is released, students in the organization's Triple Play program spend the next several hours surrounded by Lozano and other mentors.

The Triple Play program exists at seven schools and five Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the city.

"I like to come here because it's fun and I get people to help me do my homework and finish it," Global Prep student, Jade Gonzalez said.

"We play soccer, basketball, and sometimes we play games that we have to run or we use bells or we use hula hoops," Pamela's daughter and Global Prep student, Sofia Lozano said.

Triple Play focuses on the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition through three components: mind, body, and soul.

"With the pandemic, it just showed us that simple play goes a long way and they are craving it," Lozano said. "We have so many kids picking up sports in school or outside, they missed that piece during the pandemic. It took away a big chunk of their development."

While kids are physically active, Lozano puts a big focus on teaching them other skills that can be used beyond the game they are playing.

Gonzalez says she's learned how to have good sportsmanship and how to work with others on a team.

"Last time, a girl came up to me and got mad at me. I could be like that, but at the end, I give a high five to all of them that we're playing," Jade said.

"That's what makes the game more fun, learning that it's just a game and I'm not going to get a lot of credit for it because it's just a game," Sofia added.

According to the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis, youth who participate in Triple Play report double-digit increases in physical activity improved eating habits, and improved relationships with their peers, which have all been linked to positive long-term health outcomes.

Lozano says it's all about the stability they provide for students every day after school that ultimately helps make a difference.

"We always greet them with that same idea of, 'Today is a new day. It's a fresh start.' We love you the same. We just try to be as consistent and supportive as possible and I think they respond to that," she said.

To take part in the Triple Play Program, you must be a member of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Indianapolis.

The membership fee for the entire school year is $25, which offers access to health and wellness education, homework help, a daily snack or meal, and mentorship opportunities.