LAGUNA BEACH - On Wednesday, October 26, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris presented the Boys and Girls Club of Laguna Beach (BGCLB) with $400,000 in one-time funding as part of the 2022-2023 state budget, to renovate the play yard to address physical, socio-emotional, and academic well-being with more play and learning for local youth. It includes opportunities for engaging in almost every type of sport, including skateboarding, cultivating nature with a greenhouse, raised garden beds and butterfly gardens, creative expression and art therapy with an art wall and chalkboards of all sizes, and a new play structure, turf and shade structure.
“I'm so proud to have secured $400,000 in the California state budget for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine). “I cannot wait to see the vision for the Dream Play Yard become a reality. It is going to be a tremendous resource for Laguna Beach kids of all ages.”
Pamela Estes, CEO of BGCLB said, “We at the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach are so grateful for the generous support of Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and our community for their transformational investment in the young people we serve. Providing the kids of Laguna and South Orange County a safe yet fun place to be and grow is our primary goal. This new play yard will not only be a revitalized part of Boys & Girls Club but be a new facility our whole community can appreciate and enjoy."
PLAY is serious business for the Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach. Although the United Nations has recognized play as a basic right of every child, the young digital natives served do not experience the amount of play shared by previous generations. Play is essential to development as it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of young people. Younger children thrive on play-based learning that cannot be equivalently replaced by digital means. Play encourages communication, improves cognitive development, and encourages relationship building. Structured play includes rules or boundaries to teach. Through it, kids learn critical skills of leadership, teamwork, listening, problem-solving, goal setting, and how to grow from failing. Free play allows kiddos to use their creativity to develop imagination while discovering talents on their own. It teaches them to learn and practice self-regulation, decision making skills, empathy, and conflict resolution.
Anxiety and depression levels are at epidemic portions and directly correlate to screen time. The turf area in the Dream Play Yard will become a new option for our young to learn self-care through meditation, visualization, yoga, tai-chi, martial arts, music, and other therapies. The art wall allows for new avenues of creative expression where children can explore art and themselves. Being outdoors in the sunshine and fresh air produces stronger immune systems and general happiness.
The play yard is experientially educational in every aspect, supporting Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM). Once the play yard is complete, it will create opportunities to host community-side events like family movie events, picnics, portable skate park sessions, music performances, guest speakers, and educational presentations shared by collaborative partners.
The Boys & Girls Club of Laguna Beach has been helping young people thrive since 1952 with a consistent focus on inclusion, diversity, equity, and access for each young person they serve. Daily, the organization impacts more than 3,000 students in Laguna Beach and the Saddleback Valley through in-school and out-of-school time programs. BGCLB provides a physically and emotionally safe environment where young people thrive through mentorships with staff and carefully screened volunteers. The play yard’s enhanced outdoor space will increase attendance from the community at large, expand on current offerings at the Canyon Branch, and create collaboration between all participating agencies and individuals who are focused on environmental stewardship and education. The play yard will promote community unity, family health and access to PLAY.