SHELBY, Mich. (WJBK) - The Boys and Girls Clubs of Michigan is closing two locations in metro Detroit, citing low turnout. On Thursday, children and parents gathered to protest the loss to the community.
With signs like 'we matter' and 'save the club', kids organized the protest themselves to keep the Boys and Girls Club in Shelby open. The organization said it could save $300,000 by closing the Shelby location and the one in Ypsilanti, but the kids want the club to survive.
"Before I came here, I had no friends and I was home alone and coming here, I met all my friends and they seem like family to me," said protester Jack Busignani.
Jack and many of the kids and teens there want the Boys and Girls Club to stay open past the planned closure set for this Friday.
"My granddaughter is upset about it, she's been coming her for years. It's hard," said Pat Spencer.
Pat's granddaughter, Alyson Booth, said she went from being an attendee to a leader and said the protest was all the idea of the kids.
"None of the staff had this idea, they came up to the staff on their own and were like 'can we do a protest? We really want to keep our club together'," she said. "It's incredible how they came up with this at such a young age."
The number of kids at the club in the summer isn't the issue - when there's about 200-300 kids in the club. The challenge is during the school when, on average, the club reports only 16 kids attend the after-shool program.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Michigan says the $300,000 can be funneled towards longer hours at other clubs and help serve students in places with fewer after school options.
The protesters say they matter too.
"You don't see kids joining up and protesting like this in school or anything like that. These kids here are our second family and this is their second home," Justin Ciavone said.
The organization serves 15,000 kids across the area with a $4 million budget. The 16 employees impacted by closures at both locations will be reassigned, if possible.