Youth Programs | After School Program | Teen Programs | Childrens Programs | Benton Harbor | Berrien County



Health & Wellness         Baseball           Swimming

  Tennis         AAU Basketball          Music                




Health & Wellness

During the past 20 years there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in the United States. Obesity now affects 17% of all children and adolescents in the U.S. - triple the rate from just one generation ago. Childhood obesity can have a harmful effect on the body in a variety of ways. Obese children are more likely to have:

  • High blood pressure and high cholesterol, which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD). In one study, 70% of obese children had at least one CVD risk factor, and 39% had two or more.
  • Increased risk of impaired glucose tolerance, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  • Breathing problems, such as sleep apnea, and asthma.
  • Joint problems and musculoskeletal discomfort.
  • Fatty liver disease, gallstones, and gastro-esophageal reflux (i.e., heartburn)
  • Obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Adult obesity is associated with a number of serious health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
  • Obese children and adolescents have a greater risk of social and psychological problems, such as discrimination and poor self-esteem, which can continue into adulthood.

So what can we do? How about join the First Chance Community Center and get some exercise! Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed than you were before you worked out. You'll also look and feel better when you exercise regularly, which can boost your confidence and improve your self-esteem. Regular physical activity can even help prevent depression. Regular physical activity can help you prevent — or manage — high blood pressure. Your cholesterol will benefit, too. Regular physical activity boosts high-density lipoprotein, or "good," cholesterol while decreasing triglycerides. This one-two punch keeps your blood flowing smoothly by lowering the buildup of plaques in your arteries. And there's more. Regular physical activity can help you prevent type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and certain types of cancer. Physical activity delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues. In fact, regular physical activity helps your entire cardiovascular system — the circulation of blood through your heart and blood vessels — work more efficiently. Join our Health and Wellness Program at the First Chance Community Center today!  

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First Chance Boxing Club 


Our Mission Statement

The mission of First Chance Boxing Club is to use the sport of amateur boxing as a tool to teach young men and women the value of discipline, hard work, sportsmanship and leadership and to use these skills in all aspects of their lives.


Our Goals and Objectives

  • To provide Benton Harbor youth, both male and female, safe, supervised facilities to receive professional training and develop skills to take their boxing to another level.
  • To offer Benton Harbor youth an opportunity to compete in tournaments and special events at the local, regional, state and national level.
  • To instill discipline, build self-confidence, promote healthy self-esteem and help battle childhood obesity.
  • To instill life skills that will go beyond the boxing ring and help them become successful adults.
  • To provide Benton Harbor youth access to a positive after school alterative, thus lessening their chances for a negative encounter with the law.

Boxing is becoming one of the most respected, well managed, and recognized sport in the world.  In this program boys and girls will receive professional training and develop skills to take their boxing to another level.   Participants will be afforded the opportunity to showcase their skills in tournaments and special events throughout the United States. The ESPN panel of Sports Science and Medical Experts rated boxing as the most athletic and demanding sport in the world. Boxing is also a positive way for youth to release of aggression as well as an unmatched form of exercise.  Contrary to some perceptions amateur  boxing ranks as the safest sport of all contact sports.  Participant benefits include:

  • Self Discipline
  • Character Building and Positive Social Development
  • Enhanced Athletic Abilities
  • Health & Wellness Awareness
  • Sportsmanship
  • Tournaments and Events
  • Awards/Trophies

Youth boxing instills discipline, builds self-confidence, promotes healthy self-esteem and helps to directly battle childhood obesity. Through the experiences gained through this program participants will have obtained life skills that will go beyond the boxing ring.

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Cal Ripken Baseball is played mostly at Union Field Park Monday-Saturday between the months of April through September. There are 240 boys and girls who participate in this league. Each team plays about 16 games. The games are usually scheduled in two hour slots with the first game starting at 9:00 a.m.

All players are evaluated in March and then drafted onto teams by the coaches. Everyone who registers on time is placed on a team. Practices are arranged by, and at the discretion of the coaches beginning in March. The Benton Harbor Cal Ripken Baseball League is organized by four separate divisions based on the age of the player. The league also participates in all-star tournaments throughout the U.S.
  • T-Ball is an entry level league to introduce young players ages 4-6 to baseball. Players will develop their skills while focusing on the basic fundamentals of throwing, fielding, and hitting. Team sizes are about 10-12 players per team. Players all hit from an adjusting batting tee. Games are played once or twice a week with practice three times per week. There are no tryouts for the kids.
  • Minor League Division is an entry level league to organize competitive baseball for players ages 9-12. Kids pitch in this league with continuous batting orders and required substitutions. Games are played typically six innings and played two times per week with practice two to three times per week. Additional practices and/or make-up games are occasionally required. Hardballs are used in this league.
  • Little League Division is for high skill level players ages 11 to 12 and is more competitive than the Minor League. There are limited substitution requirement. We do make sure that every player has a chance to participate. Each player must be in the field a minimum of six defensive outs per game and have at least one turn at bat. The games are played with 98% of Benton Harbor youth competing against each other. Games are six innings and played two times per week with two or three practices per week. Additional practices and/or make-up games should be expected. Hardballs are used in this league.

The Cal Ripken Baseball league will impact the lives of youth in so many ways. All children deserve to reap the many benefits of playing baseball such as: friendship, self-control, confidence, alertness, initiatives, conditioning, sportsmanship, teamwork, life lessons, and fun.


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First Chance afterschool program provides swimming to new and experienced swimmers at different levels for children ages 5-14 years old. This is a great opportunity for children in the community to have fun while learning and/or refining survival skills with certified life guards and proper safety equipment. Through this program, they will be taught a variety of techniques including, different strokes, front and back crawl, and the butterfly.

All swimming will be held throughout the school year in a safe environment at the Benton Harbor High School Teen Center. The skills acquired can be used for water safety, extra curricular activities, and as additional physical fitness that is lacking in some schools. The swim levels are:
  • Level I Beginners - This level introduces the child to the water using floating and gliding devices. The children will focus on basic skills such as: treading water and returning safely to the poolside. They will also learn how to float and hold their breath under water.
  • Level 2 Intermediate - This level builds skills in front and back swimming. They will be introduced to deep water and endurance techniques. Children will work on kneeling dives, surface support, and developing a greater sense of self safety.
  • Level 3 Advanced - In this level children will continue to build skills and endurance for the front crawl, back crawl, and elementary back stroke. They will learn air way and breathing obstructions as well as rescue breathing. They will also be introduced to competitive aspects of swimming.

Improving student's ability to swim is a critical life safety skill and can provide a healthy activity that can be enjoyed for the rest of their life.


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First Chance tennis program provides basic tennis instruction and guidance in fundamental tennis skills appropriate to their stage of development. The program will develop and enhance a high level of sportsmanship, integrity, and diversity. Children ages 5-14 years old will enhance their athletic abilities in a positive environment held at the Benton Harbor High School Teen Center. The levels are:

  • Level 1 - Junior Challengers - In this level technique and fundamentals will be stressed, as well as learning match play and tennis etiquette.
  • Level 2 - Junior Advanced - This level is designed to teach students how to keep score, learn the fundamentals and begin to play sets and matches.
  • Level 3 - Junior Development - This level will focus on player ability, not age group. Children will not only increase playing skills, but also foster valuable skills both on and off the court; goal setting, good sportsmanship, and accepting challenges.

We recognize that when academic enrichment and life skills are combined, we can profoundly transform the lives of our communities' most vulnerable youth. This tennis program will provide a framework for understanding, experiencing, and competing with challenges both on the tennis court and in the classroom. They will also have a unique opportunity to master life skills, learn leadership, and express feelings in a respectful way that leads to productive outcomes.


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AAU Basketball

First Chance basketball program provides youth the opportunity to develop all of their basketball skills - shooting, passing, dribbling, rebounding, defense and other fundamental skills. The program also immerses the players in the sport, giving focused intensive training that is essential to improvement. Everyone is encouraged to develop his or her specific athletic capability while giving particular attention to team involvement. Over the course of the program, each participant’s self-confidence will grow along with new skills and overall appreciation of the game. Each participant will:

  • Gain self-confidence through basketball success
  • Create lasting friendships
  • Take their game to the next level
  • Have fun!!!

All players will learn intricate guard, forward, and center skills, and will raise their basketball IQ by learning “how to play the game”, not just “how to run plays.” Becoming a complete basketball player means developing athletic ability, knowledge of the game, self-esteem, confidence, sportsmanship, team concept and a positive attitude on and off the court. If your child enjoys basketball and wants the opportunity to hone their skills, join the AAU Basketball team!  


Kenny Jackson

Farrid Coleman

Rodney Alexander, Jr.

Johnny McCree

Curtis McFall

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First Chance’s Vision is to “provide children…programming that supports their success through social, education, emotional, cultural and physical development”. And we are achieving that vision with our music programming. Our Music Programs are helping the development of our youth in so many ways. Research has proved that: Early musical training helps develop brain areas involved in language and reasoning. Recent studies have clearly indicated that musical training physically develops the part of the left side of the brain known to be involved with processing language, and can actually wire the brain's circuits in specific ways.

There is also a causal link between music and spatial intelligence (the ability to perceive the world accurately and to form mental pictures of things). This kind of intelligence, by which one can visualize various elements that should go together, is critical to the sort of thinking necessary for everything from solving advanced mathematics problems to being able to pack a book-bag with everything that will be needed for the day. Recent studies show that students who study the arts (including music) are more successful on standardized tests such as the SAT. They also achieve higher grades in high school.

Students of music learn craftsmanship as they study how details are put together painstakingly and what constitutes good, as opposed to mediocre, work. These standards, when applied to a student's own work, demand a new level of excellence and require students to stretch their inner resources. Music also provides children with a means of self-expression; self-esteem is a by-product of this self-expression. Music performance teaches young people to conquer fear and to take risks. Risk-taking is essential if a child is to fully develop his or her potential. If you want your child to reach his or her highest potential, join one of our music programs today!

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First Chance Drum Line

For those of you out there who believe drumming to be just about rhythm and noise, you are wrong! The art of drumming possesses a huge variety of benefits in all aspects of day to day life. Most of the skills and techniques learned with drumming can be applied to other situations. The first obvious benefit to drumming is the physical aspect to it. Drumming is a physical activity, one that takes a lot of energy; so much that the cardio muscles in drummers are much more developed than in non-drummers!

The determination and focus needed to drum can be applied to any situation. When playing a beat, drummers use every part of their mind to make sure every part of them is playing on time. This helps students to develop fundamental skills in channeling their mind, and focusing on one thing. Another benefit of drum line: it’s all inclusive. Males and females, tall and short, thin and heavy, wealthy and not must all work together to strive for the group’s goals. Football is all-male; women’s volleyball is all-female; basketball is all-tall; debate club is all-smart. But drum line gives everybody an equal opportunity to participate, learn, work and succeed, thereby providing positive social and psychological benefits. If you’re ready for your child to be a part of Drum Line, contact First Chance today!


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PO Box 607     •     Benton Harbor, MI 49023     •     269-270-3718     •     Fax 269-254-8542     •     Email     Facebook Fan Page!  Follow us on Twitter!   Watch First Chance Videos!