Go Beyond

The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department will launch its “Go Beyond” program for teens in October 2021. The eight-month program will serve 20 Athens-area teens in grades 6-12, and participants will embark on field trips across North Georgia. (Courtesy/ACC Leisure Services)

Next fall, Athens teens will get the chance to learn and have fun while on excursions hosted by the Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services’ “Go Beyond” program.

The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department will launch its “Go Beyond” program for teens in October 2021. The eight-month program will serve 20 Athens-area teens in grades 6-12, and participants will embark on field trips across North Georgia to a variety of educational and engaging experiences, such as the Civil Rights Museum, Medieval Times and paintballing.

The program, which will be free of charge for participants, is being funded by a $5,120 donation from local law firm Blasingame, Burch, Garrard, and Ashley, P.C. The donation was made in honor of the retirement of two of the firm’s partners, Michael Morris and Thomas Rogers Jr.

Both the retiring attorneys are from Athens and attended ACC public schools. Tripp Bridges, an attorney at the firm, said that “it would be a fitting honor” to use the donation to serve underserved students in the Athens school system.

Bridges said that Morris has a personal connection to the Leisure services department, having worked there as a coach in the early 1970s.

“We think that this Go Beyond program that the leisure services department has put together is a really great opportunity to get kids doing some interesting things outside of Athens and exploring the broader world,” Bridges said.

Bridges said that the Athens-based law firm strives to be active within the Athens community and give back to it through donations and participation in civic organizations.

The Go Beyond program will meet at three different parks and community centers throughout Athens. Kelly Thomas, the facilities supervisor at Lay Park Community Center, where the first meeting of the program will be, said that the program will help the participants develop life skills like money management and entrepreneurship.

“The name of the program is ‘Go Beyond,’ meaning go beyond Athens,” Thomas said. “It’s giving them access to different areas within the community, volunteering and going out into the community.”

Thomas said that the leisure services department chose locations for the trips based on what has been popular at teen camps in the past and what he thought would be most enjoyable to the participants.

“The main thing is just getting a lot of the kids new experiences, going to places that they haven’t been before and getting them in front of people that they may have never had the opportunity to speak to,” Thomas said.