Our Promise Youth Academy: Making a difference

July 6, 2017

Our Promise Youth Academy is making a difference one kid at a time.

Starting off as Boys and Girls Club, the board, for a variety of reasons, decided to part ways with that organization and develop something new and totally Brownfield’s own.

Ernesto Elizardo, the director of the Academy works hard daily to bring the best to the kids of Terry County. He has hired some great staff members and daily, they are working with kids, and influencing their lives and helping to develop leaders.

Their funding comes solely through donations. Part of that funding is from donations made to the United Fund. Ernesto stated, “We couldn’t do what we do without the United Fund. Their funding helps to cover so many of our expenses.”

During the summer of 2016, the average daily attendance at the Academy was 110 children. Kids from grades K-12 are welcomed there. There is  a small fee of $5 per child for the year required. This enables every child to have the possibility of attending the Academy.

During the summer, a hot lunch is served, along with snacks. In the school year, after school snacks are provided for all who attend.

Homework help is offered daily. There is also a small library available for the kids.

Don’t mistake OPYA for a cheap babysitting service. True to its name, OPYA offers an academy experience with their promise of making a difference.

Activities to promote critical thinking skills are provided. One activity that was a great success was the Lemonade Day lemonade stand.

Ernesto and a group of kids met around a table and planned every aspect of the stand, from how to set up to what the expenses would be to how much they would have to sell for in order to see a profit. It was such a pleasure to watch these kids problem solve and use math skills to figure this whole project out.

Donna Dill comes in twice a week and offers baton lessons at no cost to the families. The kids also get matching shirts and the opportunity to perform at various events throughout the city.

Others have offered craft classes of different kinds. If you do have a talent that you would like to share with these kids, contact Ernesto. They are always looking for more things to keep these young brains active.

Of course, there are always basketball or football games going on as well as pool tables and foosball tables. Board games are also available.

The mission statement of the Academy is “To strengthen the future of the community by encouraging youth to become productive citizens through programs which promote leadership skills, service to others and pride in self.”

Clearly, Ernesto and his staff are working hard to fulfill that mission statement.

They have plans to set up a computer lab for use by the kids, as well as teaching robotics utilizing 3D printers. All of this takes money and this money has to come from somewhere.

Ernesto stated, “We are so grateful to the United Fund for supporting our program. We also want to thank our other supporters. We work hard to make every day worthwhile for the kids and we work hard to be good stewards of the donations given to us.”

Money given to the United Fund stays in Terry County and serves the people of Terry County. Please consider donating to the United Fund. This can be done through Lone Star State Bank and contacting Kathy Burns.

It is obvious in a visit to the Academy that the kids are happy, having fun and learning. All thanks to your donations.

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