The way Mission Mayor Armando O’Caña likes to tell it, it was out of the mouths of babes where Mission drew inspiration to expand the city’s Bannworth Gym into a full Boys & Girls Club unit.
“Back about six years ago, maybe even five years ago to be exact, I had a fifth-grader from the Sharyland school district come up and he planted the seed,” O’Caña said. “’Why do I have to move from point A to point B?’ And that created the vision.”
That vision of establishing a full-service Boys & Girls Club to serve the fast-growing east side of the city – and creating learning opportunities for kids closer to home – will soon become reality.
In March, the city of Mission approved a $400,000 plan to expand and transform Bannworth from simply a recreation center to a full-on Boys & Girls Club. Plans call for the addition of 4,000 square feet and would include four new classrooms, office space and restrooms.
The new center would for the first time offer after-school programs at a location besides the main Boys & Girls Club just north of downtown Mission. City officials expect the center, located in the 1800 block of North Shary Road in Bannworth Park, to be open next fall.
“So now with this expansion, it will be a second full-service Boys and Girls Club that will provide activities for the kids,” Mission Boys & Girls Club Director Juan Arevalo said. “We can provide tutoring, mentoring, recreational and team-building activities that will benefit the children of the city of Mission.”
The primary Boys & Girls Club is located across town from Bannworth about four miles away. The Boys & Girls Club of Mission consists of four units. In addition to the main club, the others locations are at Castro Elementary, Jessie Jensen Elementary and Leal Elementary. The Boys & Girls Club is a department of the city.
The Boys & Girls Club is a youth development program that provides services to about 6,000 children with after-school, summer and sports programs. The club offers flag football, basketball, volleyball, baseball and many other sports in addition to a variety of learning activities for children.
The after-school programs, which would be the focus of Bannworth, normally run from 3-7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 3-6 p.m. on Friday. The center will serve elementary and middle schools in the Sharyland area.
The Bannworth Gym expansion, which was designed in-house by city staff as a cost-savings move, is another amenity for Bannworth Park. Recent improvements include a hike and bike trail, a first-class natatorium and a dog park, which completed and opened last January.
“We’re excited to get it started and completed so our children and our community can benefit from it,” Mission City Manager Randy Perez said.