Kids stick to the right path

Yesi Esparza prefers doing her homework when her younger brother is not around.

Every day after school, the 10-year-old student from Jordan Middle School goes to Burbank Adult School to do her homework, where she can concentrate. .

"I come here so I won't get distracted, because my brother turns on the TV and I get tempted," Yesi said.

Yesi is one of about 16 students who take part in the Burbank Boys and Girls Club's middle school enrichment program at the school.

Students meet every day after school to play sports, do homework and make oral presentations, among other activities.

"The big thing is that middle school-age youth really need a program like this," said Shanna Vaughan, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank. "School counselors can refer kids to the program."

Otis Daniel, 11, used to stay home alone after school until late in the evening before he joined the program.

Otis has been coming to the program for a week and prefers spending time with his new friends over staying at home by himself.

"I like hanging out," Otis said. "We talk and talk and do homework, but I probably do more talking."

The cost to join the program is $110 a month and includes membership in the Boys and Girls Club.

No child is turned away if parents cannot afford to pay the fee, Vaughan said. The club provides scholarships to families who have difficulty making the payment, she added.

"This is the age group where we help them go down the right path," said Albert Hernandez, program director of the Boys and Girls Club. "I do anticipate more kids coming as the school year progresses."

The program is offered during the school year, Hernandez said.

For Candice Coyco, 12, the club's program offers her ways to stay active.

"I like to play soccer and football," Candice said.

Burbank High School graduate Jasmine Harris, 18, is part of the Boys and Girls Club staff, but was once a middle school student who participated in the same program. "When I came here, I was really shy," Harris said. "After a while, I started to talk to people."

But for Harris, working with the students is a learning experience.

"I like working with kids because they teach you as much as you teach them," she said.

For more information on the program, call (818) 482-1286.

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