Large community-run groups are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, but the Springwood Boys and Girls Club, boasting 500 active participants, is bucking that trend.
Run by a committee of just 10 volunteers and with 23 paid coaches, the not-for-profit club celebrated its 60-year anniversary last month, and president Tammi Priestley hopes there are many more years to come.
“The longevity of the club is all about the voluntary contribution. It’s been 60 years of a voluntary-run organisation,” she said.
Tucked away behind the Valley Heights Locomotive Depot Heritage Museum off Tusculum Rd, the club provides gymnastics and kindergym classes for kids, and fitness preparation classes for adults.
They have spent the past 20 years in this building, which was partially funded by a council grant and community donations from a “buy a brick” campaign. Earlier homes for the club included the old school of arts in the Springwood town square and the old Roxy Theatre.
The club was founded by Frank Dougherty and a committee of men who felt there was not a lot in Springwood for fathers and their sons at the time.
They started the club which over the years has provided boxing, wrestling, netball, martial arts and gymnastics classes, all while promoting fun, fitness and good citizenship.
Ms Priestley said they decided to focus on gymnastics as it was fundamental in any sport, providing strength, balance, co-ordination and flexibility.
“It also teaches kids how to make quick decisions and follow instructions,” she said.
“We have an old-fashioned, community feeling here,” Ms Priestley said.
“We look after each other and focus on fun.”
The club provided a gymnastics component in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympics and also attend the World Gymnaestrada, held in different countries every four years to celebrate the fun and friendship of gymnastics.
Ms Priestley said the volunteering spirit had been declining however, and without it the club would not survive into the future.
There aren’t a lot of boys and girls clubs left that aren’t run by an administrator, Ms Priestley said.
“The spirit we have here is able to make that possible.”