Boys Ranch youth place first for children’s developmental toy

Recently, Boys Ranch youth competed in the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America regional competition in Odessa, Texas. FCCLA is a student organization that encourages members to make ‘a difference in their families, careers and communities by addressing important personal, work and societal issues through Family and Consumer Sciences education.’ While the competition was a first-time experience for the boys and girls who attended, they all really enjoyed having the chance to participate!

“I was nervous at first because there were so many people,” Trae, 18, said. “I didn’t realize there would be that many people there, but then I got to thinking about all the Future Farmers of America competitions I’ve been to … and I wasn’t nervous anymore.”

Despite their inexperience, our Toys That Teach team, consisting of Dalyn, Kenyon and Trae, did an incredible job, taking first place and earning a spot at the state-level competition in April!

In this category, the three created a learning toy designed to teach a concept to preschool-age children using only ordinary household items. The project also had to meet specific guidelines to qualify their project such as being made of everyday objects, meeting safety, sanitation and cleaning standards, and be easy to carry and use.

“When we were working on the project, (initially) it was hard to decide and plan,” Dalyn, 17, said about coming up with their concept.

“I was excited that we got first place and are going to state!” Trae added.

The boys’ design, bearing the memorable name “My Blanket,” combines a throw blanket with flash cards, building blocks and Velcro. The blanket provides an opportunity for a child to learn and play through a series of matching activities around letters, colors, numbers and shapes.

Some of our youth also competed in the culinary category at FCCLA. Although they did not place, their participation earned them a $500 scholarship to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts, which has campuses in Austin, Texas, and Boulder, Colorado.

Yet, perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of the trip, especially to those who know how remarkable our young people are, was their demonstration of what it truly means to a Boys Ranch resident.

“I had some Advisers from other schools comment on the students’ manners, such as willingness to hold doors open and help out other students who brought in heavy items,” said the team’s teacher, Linda Horton, career technical education coordinator at Boys Ranch High School. “One school’s culinary team forgot gloves and could have been disqualified. Our team brought a few extra pairs of gloves, from the dining hall and took those to the other team so they could still compete!”

For many at Boys Ranch, this news does not come as a surprise. Rather, it exemplifies the remarkable dedication each child exhibits toward their education, healing and future success while in our care.

We couldn’t be prouder of them!

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