A safe space. That's what the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley give to more than 43,000 kids each year. But along with keeping kids out of harm's way after school lets out, the Boys & Girls Clubs enrich children's lives though their programs. Kids get creative in arts classes, learn social interaction and fitness skills in sports programs, and prepare for the future with technology courses that ensure they won't buy stock in companies that only produce floppy discs.
But the Boys & Girls Clubs impact kids beyond afterschool care. In addition to the East Valley clubs having the first Arizona club to serve a Native American community, the clubs' Ladmo branch has Mona Dixon, who was named National Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in 2010.
Her path of success, encouraged by the Boys & Girls Clubs, led her from a girl homeless and worried about her family's survival to a young woman with a full ride to college and named one of the Top 28 Most Influential Black Women in America by Essence magazine.
Though the calendar maintains that it's still the 21st century, the experienced cowfolk at MD Ranch take visitors back to the Wild West with horsemanship and equestrian knowledge that's been perfected across the centuries. Joining them is a herd of well-trained horses, who itch to take riders on vigorous romps across the Sonoran Desert landscapes of San Tan Mountain Regional Park. The only outfitters in the mountains, the ranch's seasoned guides lead experienced or first-time riders along desert trails, trotting past stately cacti on all-day and sunset excursions or galloping in search of far-off coyote choruses during intense ranch rides. The herd contains a wide range of horse personalities–from horses that are safe for even the most inexperienced riders to those with enough go for seasoned cowboys. On-site trainers work with steeds and riders alike, teaching students of all ages the techniques of English and Western riding as well as basic horsemanship and equine care skills.
Aqua-Tots Swim School trains and encourages swimmers in the art of buoyancy through its array of services, specializing in instructing those aged 6 months–12 years in small groups. Instructors boast national certification, completing 32 hours in the company’s Lessons for Life training program and successfully completing the Water Safety Instructor exam.
Children are placed in one of eight class levels, from Tadpoles (6 months–18 months), which acquaints infants with the pool, to Stingrays, which is for children who have more experience and want to refine their strokes and one day sting a jellyfish. Each individual class contains no more than four students training under the watchful eye of the instructor in a climate-controlled indoor pool. In addition to the children’s program, Aqua-Tots Swim Schools also leads adult swim classes and provides training for both swim competition and first aid.
Dirty cars can pull up to any of Full Circle Autowash’s five locations for a full interior or exterior restoration. An automated wash tunnel doles out four car-wash packages, from a simple exterior wash and interior vacuum to the Platinum treatment, which includes sealer wax, interior-vinyl protection, and leather conditioning. Meanwhile, carnauba wax and clay bars give rides a deeper clean during interior and exterior detailing packages. In addition to sprucing up autos, the Full Circle team also arranges for windshield repairs, installs Solar Gard window film, and replaces old oil with fresh standard or high-mileage synthetic blends. While the team services cars, customers can head to the gift shop to get a snack or pick up a greeting card for their car.
Owned and operated by veteran competitive swimmer David Tait, Evo Swim School leads fun, structured classes that tutor young pupils in the watery arts. The classes start swimmers at a young age, introducing babes as young as 9 months to the water, and range up to lessons in advanced strokes that prep 12-year-olds for competitive swimming. The school sets parents' minds at ease with low student-to-teacher ratios; entry level and intermediate classes have one instructor in the pool for every four students.
During classes, parents are free to relax in the WiFi-enabled waiting room, where pool-overlooking windows provide an easy way to keep an eye on paddling young'uns. A kids' play area is also on hand to keep water-shy siblings and rust-prone sibling bots occupied while their amphibious brethren frolic in the water.
The mechanics of Bikes Direct and Bike Masters treat cycles to the repairs and tune-ups that keep life rolling along. They also pair riders with brand-specific bike clothing and accessories such as carriages that give kids, dogs, or stuffed animal collections a place to ride with you. Their armada of bikes spans all cycling varieties, helping customers begin their two-wheeled adventures on bikes ranging from mountain and road to BMX and beach cruisers. Anyone who purchases one of these rides also pedals away with lifetime complimentary tune-ups, a 30-day price match guarantee, and a basic bike fitting.