“What did [they] lack though? … They lacked something that could have been given to them if we’d only know they needed it: a community around them that prepared them properly for the world.” – Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers.
How many young people around us lack proper preparation for the world? I don’t have a specific number to give you, though I wish I did.
Last week’s post about making an early investment in the youth around us addressed only one aspect of helping young people succeed. Today, I focus on programs run through the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County.
My favorite part of our mission statement is the clause “especially those who need us most.” While our mission is to inspire and enable all young people to reach their full potential, our focus is on those most in need of what we offer.
So what do we offer? You’ve heard me talk vaguely about programs we run, but here are more specific details about a few of them.
Power Hour is one of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s most emphasized programs. It doesn’t matter what age group—every club member from kindergarten through high school participates. This hour is focused on empowering club members to work productively through their homework and ensuring each individual gets any help they need.
Money Matters, sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation, promotes financial responsibility and independence for teenage club members. Participants learn how to manage a checking account, create a budget, save and invest, start small businesses and pay for college. A recent evaluation demonstrated that youth showed improvement on 94% of survey questions asked before and after participating.
Project Learn reinforces what club members learn at school during the time they spend at the Club. Research has shown that students do much better in school when they spend non-school hours doing academically beneficial activities. Club staffs create fun and educational activities to reinforce lessons taught in the classroom.
S.M.A.R.T. (Skills, Mastery, and Resistance Training) contains multiple programs.
SMART Moves addresses problems such as drug and alcohol use. Through a team approach involving Club staff, peer leaders, parents, and community representatives it emphasizes more than a “say no” approach. Discussion and role-playing help Club members practice resistance and refusal skills, develop assertiveness, strengthen decision-making skills, and analyze media and peer influence.
SMART Girls offers young women guidance towards healthy attitudes and lifestyles. Through dynamic sessions, group activities, field trips, and mentoring opportunities with adult women, Club girls build skills for eating right, staying physically fit, getting good health care, and developing positive relationships. They address positive attitudes towards body image, physical and emotional changes girls experience as well as how the media influences attitudes about females.
Passport to Manhood is part of the SMART program, and consists of 14 sessions: each addresses a specific aspect of character and manhood through highly interactive activities. It is a targeted effort to engage young boys in discussions and activities that reinforce character, leadership, and positive behavior.
Date SMART is a supplement to SMART Girls and Passport to Manhood for teenage club members. Through fun sessions members learn how to achieve mutually supportive relationships free of violence and abuse. Participants are encouraged to become community advocates for relationships that promote equality and respect while combating the attitudes and behaviors that lead to dating, sexual and domestic violence.
To learn about more programs sponsored through Boys & Girls Clubs of America that are run at various program sites visit this link.
In addition to these programs, each of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Utah County has programs developed with its particular Club members in mind.
- Provo Clubhouse – newly renovated Samsung tech center with tablets for Club members to use in STEM activities.
- Franklin Elementary – band, orchestra, cooking, creative creations, cultural arts, photography, science, story box theater and filmmaking.
- Amelia Earhart Elementary – author’s academy, art, ballroom, book club, choir, and orchestra.
- Aristotle Academy – unique opportunities include French and Taekwondo.
- Eagle Mountain Elementary – sports club, art, origami, theater, board game club, and humanitarian club.
- Walden Teen – offers extracurricular activities like Model United Nations and mock trial, as well as programs like ACT/SAT Preparation.
- Walden K-5 –cooking, arts and crafts, physical education, team building games, and gardening.
- South Franklin Community Center – STEM activities, and soccer (including a recent trip to play at the 7 Peaks indoor arena).
- Scera Park Elementary – computer time, educational activities, and short movies on Fridays.
- Wasatch Elementary – Chinese tutoring; partnerships with Kids Are Scientists Too for science activities, and BYU’s Dietetics Afterschool Program which offers nutrition classes.
Through every program and at every site, we provide a community to help all youth—especially those who need us most—prepare for the world and build foundations for great futures.