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INSIGHTS

A safe after-school place to hang out

A safe after-school place to hang out
Boys & Girls Clubs of Carroll County provides kids with a fun and secure haven with Axis video cameras and Companion video management system.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Carroll County provides kids with a fun and secure haven with Axis video cameras and Companion video management system.

Creating a safe space for after-school activities

Providing children and teens a fun and safe alternative to roaming the streets when not in school is the founding principle of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The Westminster, Maryland location of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carroll County was so successful at the mission that they had to create a wait list.
 
To accommodate dramatically increasing enrollment, the club moved from its 2,500 square-foot community center to a two-story, 16,000 square-foot property that faces the city’s busy Main Street. Relocating to the downtown area and into a building six times larger than their previous home raised significant security concerns: With potential for so many more children and activities happening under one roof, how could administrators and staff keep a close watch to ensure everyone’s safety and security? And given its new location, how could administrators ensure that anyone roaming the streets couldn’t gain access to the building.
 
Sean Davis, Chief Executive Officer, Boys & Girl Club of Westminster, MD said, “From a quality and risk standpoint, the Axis cameras have been a blessing. We really have no blind spots in or outside the building. We can see and head off misbehavior before it escalates and monitor staff to make sure they stay fully engaged with the kids.”
 
To achieve the visibility they needed, the Boys & Girls Club had Stanley Security install a comprehensive HDTV-quality video security system from Axis Communications. Each of the 19 indoor AXIS Companion Eye L cameras and two outdoor AXIS Companion LVE cameras provides a 115o field of view and wide dynamic range to capture scenes with complex lighting. The club’s operations manager can view all the cameras live from his office desktop using intuitive AXIS Companion video management software.
 
“Given their placement, there’s really nowhere that kids can go in our building, except for the bathrooms, where we can’t see them,” says Erin Bishop, Marketing Director for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carroll County. This kind of scrutiny has helped administrators curtail bullying and reinforce appropriate behavior.

Cameras curb behavior

Though the club maintains a 1:15 staff-to-child ratio for every activity, things can happen behind a staffer’s back when their attention gets diverted to another corner of the room. A case in point is the Book Nook, hands down the most popular place in the building.
 
“This seems to be the area where the kids want to be the most rambunctious,” says Bishop. “Instead of grabbing a book off the shelf and sitting quietly, they’re jumping on around and poking one another.” Bishop used to walk into the nook and admonish them. Now the kids smile at the area’s cameras and usually stifle their impulses.
 
“I’m always scrolling through the camera views to see what’s happening,” says Sean Davis, Chief Executive Officer. “The images are so sharp that if, for instance, I see a kid not keeping their hands to themselves – a problem that could eventually lead to bigger issues, I can go on our PA system and call out to the kid by name to knock it off.” That tends to stop bad behavior in its tracks.
 
Davis was impressed with how quickly he learned the system, both for live viewing and retrieving stored video by date and time. “I’ve worked with at least four other systems over the years and this, by far, has been the easiest,” says Davis.
 
Given the amount of money the club invested in renovating the space and outfitting it with furniture, materials and expensive equipment, the administrators find having the cameras in place helps reinforce the importance of good character and doing the right thing – lessons they teach the kids on a daily basis.
 
“A majority of the children we serve are coming from at-risk environments,” says Bishop. “In addition to giving them enrichment programs, we’re also mentoring them to become good leaders.”

Whether a dancer, a deejay or a design engineer

With all the extra space at its disposal, the Westminster club has been able to provide kids ages 6 to 18 with an amazing and engaging array of enrichment opportunities. There’s a dance studio for performance artists, a radio station for aspiring deejays, a recording studio for musicians, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) center for those interested in computers and robotics, and an art studio for other creative expression. There are spaces for doing homework and group mentoring sessions, there’s a teen center for just hanging out and eventually there will be a gymnasium for the athletically inclined.
 
By augmenting supervision with well-placed AXIS Companion network cameras, administrators and staff are able to ensure that everyone who walks through its doors finds the Boys & Girls Club of Westminster a safe and fun place to be.
 
Boys & Girls Clubs of Carroll County provides kids with a fun and secure haven with Axis video cameras and Companion video management system.



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