Members of the Gibbs High School Junior ROTC were up bright and early Saturday morning to participate in the Tennessee Valley’s Halls/Powell Boys & Girls Club unit as part of Comcast’s 12th Comcast Cares Day.

By Tasha Mahurin

“Summer is our busiest time at the Boys & Girls Clubs,” Vice President of Operations, Markus Jackson told The Focus.

And this summer, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley has focused its efforts on a program for children that will help to ensure the continuation of academic progress and growth throughout the summer months. The program, aptly titled “Brain Gain,” addresses the threat of summer learning loss, which is a result of the lack of educational opportunities for young people during the summer months. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

Many of us think of summer as a carefree time for kids, but for some of the youth who attend the Boys & Girls Club, the release of school means the end of access to healthy meals, mentor interaction, and educational enrichment. Studies also show that low-income students are more at risk for losing reading and math skills over the summer than their peers. The Boys & Girls Clubs strive to offer services that enrich the lives of children who may not get equal access to educational activities, regardless of income.

Additionally, the organization’s new Educational Outcomes Director, Dr. Pauletta Johnson, is designing programs and activities based around Tennessee’s school curriculum that will keep kids learning in all areas of the club.

However, this summer won’t be all learning and no play.

“We’ve been organizing field trips, lining up guest speakers, and planning new activities to make sure kids will have fun at the Club this summer,” Jackson added.

Brain Gain incorporates educational lessons into activities that kids enjoy doing over the summer. It will include special interest programs for kids in areas like reading, science, robotics, and art.

To help them prepare for a summer of learning and fun, more than 300 local Comcast employees and their families and friends volunteered their time last Saturday to improve facilities at the Halls/Powell unit.  The project involved building an 1/8 mile walking track at the Club along with cleaning and re-mulching flower beds.  Comcast employees worked tirelessly alongside Boys & Girls Club employees and board members to see the project to completion.

“We are grateful that Comcast has chosen to serve the Boys & Girls Clubs again this year,” said Lisa Hurst, the President & CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley. “It’s extraordinary to see so many dedicated Comcast employees and community members come together to volunteer. The walking trail project at the Halls/Powell Club will help us teach kids and teens the importance of a healthy, active lifestyle.”

If you are interested in enrolling your child in the Boys & Girls Club, please call (865) 232-1116 or go online to to learn more, or stop by and fill out an application at any of our 14 locations in Knox, Blount, Loudon, and North Anderson counties.