A crowd of boys meet each Thursday at Overton Park to have fun and learn leadership skills.
“Thursday Boys is a service oriented youth group,” said Shay Smith, chairman of the organization. “We welcome children from all over Fort Worth.
We play, we meet on Thursday and play games and have fellowship and snacks, and the rest of the time we do community service.”
Smith said the program started about 20 years ago when Jim Redwine, the founder of the organization, brought his kids to Overton Park’s playground. Their friends joined, and the group continued to grow. Redwine then developed a leadership program.
There have been 5,000 children come through the program and about 100 to 125 come regularly on Thursdays. Smith said it is interesting that Redwine still remembers the names of children who have finished the program and then come back.
According to its website, Thursday Boys is a non-profit organization that offers Fort Worth ISD children an opportunity to build leadership skills and participate in community service. The boys meet from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. each Thursday across from Tanglewood Elementary School.
As one of its service projects, the group donated $5,000 to Water for LIFE, a charity that provides fresh water for children living in nations without fresh water.
Redwine manages the group’s playground activities and service projects. Smith said he and other dads come out on Thursdays to provide security, drinks, balls and equipment.
Thursday Boys is free to join, Smith said, but added, “We ask for a dollar donation every week that we give directly to Water for LIFE.”
Smith said some families give money throughout the year to the organization, but he, Redwine and other dads are the primary source of support for Thursday Boys.
Eighth-grader Grayson Winchester said he has been a part of Thursday Boys for five years and still comes back to help out.
“On Thursday afternoon, we’ll play and have fun and other days we do projects,” he said. “First we play a game called rings, then we play kick it, then we play basketball.”
Every Thursday they come, no matter what the weather is like, Winchester said.
Smith’s son, a fifth-grader, is part of the program. And Smith said his older child, a ninth-grader, already came through the program but comes every Thursday if he doesn’t have a school activity.
A whistle dangled around the neck of a girl wearing a yellow shirt. Smith said if there were any danger present, she would blow the whistle to alert everyone.
Smith also pointed out several boys wearing black caps standing next to younger kids. “They’re teaching them to kick,” he said. “They’re mentoring.”
Smith said parents know about Thursday Boys through word of mouth and the main thing that attracted him to the program is the sense of inclusion.
“Everyone is welcomed here…we are very anti-bully. There is no bully here, there is no attitude here,” he said. “People are part of a large group. They are taught to live in a society for two hours every Thursday.”