Duwayne ‘Coach Tony’ Smith of Valrico is a retired Tampa police officer who served on the force for 28 years. He came out of retirement to start working at the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, overseeing its Passport to Manhood and SMART Girls programs.
“I love helping kids and this program seemed like the perfect fit for me,” Smith said. “The young men refer to themselves as the ‘Gentlemen Club.’”
The Passport to Manhood program represents a targeted effort to engage young boys in discussions and activities that reinforce character, leadership and positive behavior. Each participant receives a ‘passport’ to underscore the notion that he is on a personal journey of maturation and growth. Each of the program’s 14 sessions use interactive activities to focus on a specific aspect of character and manhood. It also includes a service project where boys learn the importance of giving back to the community.
SMART Girls is a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program designed to meet the developmental needs of girls in three age groups, spanning ages 8-18. Through dynamic sessions, participatory activities, field trips and mentoring opportunities with adult women, club girls explore their own and societal attitudes and values as they build skills for eating right, staying physically fit, getting good health care and developing positive relationships with peers and adults.
On December 9, 2022, the Passport to Manhood/SMART Girls programs were celebrated at the club.
“The young men served the young ladies and female parents dessert after their dinner hour,” Smith said. “Prior to the event, the young men were apprehensive of doing such an event. I was able to convince the young men on how to be polite and courteous to women in general through numerous classroom discussions and practice. One young man told me that he thought that this was a great idea because he has witnessed a few of his friends mistreat their girlfriends.”
The young ladies and parents were served cheesecake and Bundt cakes.
“The ladies were personally greeted and escorted in the decorated classroom for dessert,” Smith said. “Tyree Braxton, a sophomore at Spoto High School, was our narrator and speaker. Everyone did a tremendous job during this celebration event. The Riverview Boys and Girls Club teens are looking forward to doing more events in teaching them on how to be productive citizens in our communities.”
If you would like to learn more about the programs offered at the Riverview Boys and Girls Club, you can visit their website at https://bgcriverview.com/. The club is located at 6809 Krycul Ave. in Riverview.