According to a recent press release, the Boys & Girls Clubs of West Central Missouri was recently given an excellence in programming award from the Missouri Area Council for its LEGO League robotics program.

The Missouri Area Council (MAC) is comprised of 14 Boys & Girls Clubs across the state of Missouri. Each year they recognize Clubs in four categories: program, resource development, marketing and outstanding board member. Representatives from Boys & Girls Clubs of America judge the entries.

“We are constantly looking for innovative and exciting programs for our members and are excited the Missouri Area Council believes LEGO League is an outstanding program,” said Executive Director Jessica Pyle. “The level of detail, critical thinking and presentation skills required for this program allowed members enrichment opportunities in different skill areas and we are thankful for the recognition.”

In summer 2015, Boys & Girls Clubs of America awarded the Club a $5,000 grant to start a LEGO League at its downtown teen facility. The grant required the Club to form a team of at least 15 Club members, purchase LEGO League equipment, and participate in at least one scrimmage and one competition. Downtown Site Manager Vicki Hart oversaw the program while Youth Development Professional Ryan Willoughby worked with Club members day-to-day learning the ins and outs of LEGO robotics.

“We really went into this program knowing very little about robotics so its great to be recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America for the work we put into making it a quality program for our members,” Hart said.

“Vicki and Ryan both put in many hours on LEGO League,” Director of Operations Tyler Hudson said. “From setting up the competition board to figuring out the challenges and teaching members how to build and program the robots – it was quite a learning curve. It was really amazing what they were able to accomplish and the kids had an awesome time throughout the experience.”

Hart said when she announced to the site they had won the award, Club members “were so proud of themselves.”

“What’s really great is that our younger members saw that award and are now more interested in joining LEGO League too,” she said. “This program is something that we were a little hesitant about starting, it’s daunting if you don’t know anything about robotics and coding, but I’m so glad we did. It’s wonderful to see Club members really engaged in learning something new and being given a MAC award is just icing on the cake.”

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