Youth Programming

Join Hands began with Girls Club many years ago in the spring of 1990. A year later our Boys Club began. Today our youth programming still includes that original Girls Club and Boys Club based at the Roosevelt housing development in East St. Louis. We also now have a Girls Club and Boys Club based at the Ubuntu Center in the Orr Weathers housing development in East St. Louis, High School Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs with Priory and Nerinx High School teens, and as volunteer power allows other classes and offerings for youth such as Cooking, Yoga, Martial Arts, Athletics and Music Lessons,  including Irish Music and Dance through a partnership with St. Louis Irish Arts. Our youth programming typically serves children 8 years old through 8th grade. We currently serve approximately 70 children with 85 volunteers.

Our youth programming provides activities to children from East St. Louis, Illinois, to entertain and challenge them and to temporarily take them out of their often harsh environment. Our volunteers act as “big sisters” or “big brothers,” friends to the boys and girls, encouraging their self-image and self-esteem, encouraging them to grow and develop in order to reach their full potential.  The focus of our youth programming is relationships with the children, so they will know they are loved and know their huge potential. Our youth programming begins the relationships we hope will continue with our Dream Path Program.

Girls Clubs and Boys Clubs

Our Girls Clubs and Boys Clubs typically meet every other Saturday afternoon.  The clubs have approximately 10 to 20 children on their rosters with a waiting list.  Activities are usually scheduled several months in advance.  Activities vary, depending on the seasons, the children’s (and adults’) interests, and the events that occur in the metropolitan area on a particular weekend.  Typical activities include the zoo, the circus, swimming, bowling, children’s theater, martial arts, apple picking, hiking, African storytelling, skating, sporting events, arts and crafts, mock trials at local courthouses, and community service. We also now regularly have activities for the children at our Ubuntu Center for Peace.   For more than 25 years several hundred young professionals in the St. Louis metropolitan area have regularly committed their time and energy to provide staffing for the clubs.

High School Big Brothers and Big Sisters

Our High School Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs matches “Bigs” from Priory and Nerinx Hall High Schools in St. Louis with “Littles” from East St. Louis. The magic and impact of this connection is beautiful. Monthly, the “Bigs” and the “Littles” meet as a group someplace in the metropolitan area to have some fun. Activities include such things as bowling, lazer tag and a scavenger hunt at the zoo. The “Bigs” act as role models for the “Littles”. The “Littles” know someone cares just about them. Everyone benefits. It is truly a gift all around.  If you are interested in bringing this program to your high school please contact us for more information.