The Ottawa Dragon Boat Foundation (ODBF) is proud to announce its continued support of The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa through their annual donation pledge of $25,000.

The Boys and Girls Club of Ottawa strives to provide a safe and supportive place for children and youth in seven at-risk neighbourhoods across Ottawa to spend their after-school and weekend hours. Their programs are built around four key pillars that aim to develop life skills and foster positivity from a young age: Education, Physical activity and Healthy Lifestyle, Leadership and Social Skills, and Creative Arts. Every year, these programs reach 4,500 children and youth like Cody and Mo, giving them opportunities to improve their academic achievement, develop stronger social skills, and blossom into positive leaders within the community.

Read their stories below:

Mo, 9, Police Youth Centre

"I like it here a lot. It’s really fun. They’re trying to educate kids. I feel like I’m smarter when I come here. They help me with my homework, if it’s hard or not. What would I tell a new person? To me, I think you should be yourself. I would show them around, get to know them and I’d tell them not to worry, that the Boys and Girls Club is a safe place. You have nothing to worry about. I was pretty excited when I got to come. I come here like three times a week. The best day of my life was when I went to the Ottawa Fury soccer game with the Boys and Girls Club."

Cody, 17, Police Youth Centre

I’ve been a member here since 2011. I’m currently a staff member. I got employed last summer and I’ve loved it ever since. I hope to further my career with the Boys and Girls Club and be here for a long time. I’ve always wanted to go to college and take Recreation and Leisure, which kind of relates to what I’m doing at the Boys and Girls Club. I hope in the future I can help kids the way I was helped as a kid. I was very shy and it was hard for me to make new friends. Then sports came into my life and it became a lot easier when there was no language barrier, no personal issues. Sports kind of forced you into working with people. Once you join a sport or start going to a Clubhouse, it really starts building relationships, not just for the team season, but for the future. There’s a lot of people I started playing basketball with that I’m still hanging around with today. I grew up literally down the street from here in Debra. Growing up, it was a little hard because you were surrounded by bad influences. The Boys and Girls Club being so close allowed us walk there after school and get out of the neighbourhood and to set us up on the right path and get to know our rights from wrongs. Without the Clubhouse, I probably wouldn’t have as many friends as I have. I definitely wouldn’t have had as many opportunities. I’m grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had here – I’ve gone to Toronto with the Boys and Girls Club twice, got to go see my first ever Blue Jays game. It’s awesome. We got to go to a suite. A lot of people don’t get to do that. It’d be awesome to go back again.

Antony Cooper