Last year, we expanded that commitment. We established the Military Youth of the Year program. We opened 102 new sites in schools with the Army Youth Programs in Your Neighborhood project. And we worked with Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg, specialist of Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and professor at the University Of Pennsylvania School Of Medicine, to provide new staff training on topics such as fostering teenager’s internal resilience to help them thrive.
In September, BGCA hosted the Military Great Think, a thought leadership forum that focused on how to improve military families' access to programs and services. Action items to emerge from a white paper included more targeted educational opportunities for military youth, recruiting military STEM experts to serve as educators, and engaging STEM companies to provide internships, mentors and programs in schools and in Clubs. Next month in San Francisco, this conversation continues as we host the STEM Great Think in conjunction with BGCA's National Conference.
A Memorable Visit
At each installation, I met with staff and base leaders to discuss what more Clubs can do to assist with programs, training and youth development challenges.
Thank you to all of our military families and what you do for us! We owe all of you a huge debt of gratitude and appreciation for what you do every day. I’m already looking forward to my next visit.
The theme “Open the Door, Take the Tour” invites you to experience how Clubs are making a difference in kids’ lives when you visit a local Club through March 29.
You can find a Club, tour one virtually and meet alums like superstar snowboarder Shaun White at greatfutures.org/bgcweek. Plus, enter to win gift cards for yourself and the Club of your choice from Lowe’s and Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores.
National Boys & Girls Club Week is the time of year we spotlight the magic that happens inside Clubs every day. So open the door to your local Club this week and find out how they’re changing kids’ lives in your community.
In her first post, Kiana writes about making all young women have access to a quality education. In her own words, “Intelligence is a beautiful thing!” That's for sure, K!
Welcome to the blogosphere, Kiana. We look forward to many more insightful posts.
Speaking at the Gwen Cherry Club of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade, First Lady Michelle Obama announced Boys & Girls Clubs of America will join the Partnership for a Healthier America's five-year initiative to make after-school programs healthier and more active for millions of kids. The First Lady is honorary chair for PHA, which works with the private sector to secure commitments to reduce childhood obesity.
We couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity to expand on our Healthy Lifestyles impact agenda. As the nation’s largest provider of low-cost or free out-of-school time activities, BGCA is committed to helping youth eat healthier, make good choices, and lead healthy lifestyles. With this partnership, we can enable millions of more kids to understand why eating well and being active is so important to their long-term success.
BGCA will encourage Clubs to adopt solid standards for nutrition and physical activity. This includes stressing the importance of providing nutrition education, encouraging kids to be more active, and engaging parents with materials and events focusing on healthy habits and physical activity. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation will provide technical assistance and support to help Clubs implement these new guidelines.
Healthy Lifestyles -- along with Academic Success and Good Character & Citizenship -- are priority areas we believe youth must do well at in order to become successful adults. As we continue our collective work toward fulfilling our vision to create Great Futures for America's kids, this partnership adds a critical element to our journey.
Thanks for all you do to change and save lives everyday!
An alarming 90 percent told us they don’t believe our country’s leaders listen to them. They were especially concerned that they have no important role to play in their future.
To find out if their opinions had changed, BGCA recently commissioned a follow-up survey. But one year later, young people continue to feel unheard by leaders.
BGCA encourages America’s youth to speak out about their concerns. Moreover, we urge our leaders to listen to them and open up channels for honest dialogue with our young people.
Programs like Youth of the Year, sponsored by Tupperware, enable Club members to develop leadership skills, study habits, and grasp the importance of community service. But to ensure there's enough opportunity to go around for all young people, it's going to take the involvement of all of us. Only when this happens, can we create the necessary environment to positively impact the future of today’s youth – and tomorrow’s America.
It's imperative for young people to be their own change agents. Like 2013-14 National Youth of the Year Kiana Knolland, who's doing just that.
Following the NFL tradition to leave a lasting and significant in the city where the big game is held, the N.Y./N.J. Super Bowl Host Committee created the Snowflake Youth Foundation. Its mission: transform after-school facilities for youth in New Jersey and metropolitan New York.
In 2012, the Foundation named Boys & Girls Clubs of America as its primary charitable partner. Since then, it has donated nearly $4 million to make critical repairs and renovations at 20 Club facilities. That includes some damaged more than a year ago by Hurricane Sandy, as you can see in this video by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (a Snowflake Youth Foundation partner).
This generous support meant the world to so many of us. Like the Boys & Girls Club of Newark, whose gym, swimming pool, dance studio and learning center were all renovated. And the Boys & Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic, where Executive Director Peter Thornton called the makeover of the Club's 25-year-old pool "a blessing ... these days, capital funding is hard to find."
Super Bowl XLVIII is in the books. Thanks to the Snowflake Youth Foundation, its legacy will be felt by New York and New Jersey Club kids for years to come.
The fact is, the out-of-school hours of 3 to 6 p.m. are as important to our children’s development as the time that they spend in school and at home. In fact, out-of-school time is so essential, it was addressed at the recent TEDxYouth@San Juan youth development conference in Puerto Rico, where I had the privilege to speak.
Research shows that kids who are productively occupied after school significantly enhance their probability for long-term success. Conversely, youth who are not engaged in beneficial activities during this period are at greater risk of aberrant behavior, such as committing juvenile crimes, which peak on school days from 3 to 6 p.m.
Every day they’re not in school, every kid needs a safe, supervised environment. For millions of kids, the Boys & Girls Club is their safe out-of-school setting to meet friends, have fun, get homework help and be actively engaged under the watchful eye of trusted adults.
So where do your kids go after school? What do they do over the summer? Are you happy with these arrangements? Do you feel they’re positively occupied? Please, take a minute to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:
What are you doing for others?”
Monday, we'll commemorate this great American with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. In communities around the country, we’ll honor Dr. King’s legacy by volunteering our service.
My family and I plan to help out by serving meals at a local homeless shelter. Getting our boys involved in their community is important to my wife, Samantha, and me. We want Chase, 11, and Grayson, 9, to understand the value and necessity of making a difference in the lives of others. It's an important life lesson. It’s also good for them.Service Spawns Success
Studies show that young people who engage in service do better in school, maintain positive relationships with adults and peers, avoid risky behaviors and are less likely to drop out of high school – and more likely to graduate – than their peers who do not.
Outcomes like these are why Boys & Girls Clubs work to instill a sense of civic responsibility in the kids we serve. Last year, more than 260,000 Club youth participated in service projects to strengthen communities. Those are amazing numbers. Now, we’re preparing to make an even bigger impact on America’s kids and communities.Millions Making a Difference
Million Members, Million Hours of Service is a new initiative to involve Club kids in service activities year-round. With support from the Citi Foundation, our more than 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs will work to raise members’ awareness of community service opportunities and provide them with resources to undertake projects for their communities.
Our aim is that at least 1 million members will perform 1 million hours of service within five years. It’s an ambitious goal, no doubt. But consider this: If every Club member contributes just one hour of community service each year, we’ll meet that objective. And you might be surprised at what can be accomplished in a single hour.
This Monday, Boys & Girls Club members will be among the millions of volunteers making a difference across our country. What a perfect way to honor Dr. King’s vision of harnessing the power of volunteering and service to transform communities.
Now college students, each recalls the various ways the Club helped them to chart their own unique paths for future success. It’s a great example of how Clubs continue to benefit young people as they become young adults.
So we resolve to lose weight, shed bad habits, balance checkbooks faithfully and improve a million other things in our own lives. Imagine the impact if every one of us similarly resolved to look outside ourselves and make the world a better place for kids.
With more than 1 in 5 U.S. kids living in poverty today, there’s no shortage of young people who need our help. And making a difference in a kid’s life isn't hard.
Boys & Girls Clubs, for instance, need volunteers to tutor and mentor members. Homeless shelters need art supplies, games and toys for young residents. Food banks need help to feed hungry families.
Let’s resolve to make 2014 a Happy New Year for kids everywhere.