Fact: I like back to school in September. All the super cliché things make me happy – the crisper air, changing leaves, and I’ll admit it, I still kinda like the back to school shopping. We start
fresh, look to the future, and get excited about what’s coming next.
Around the Boys and Girls Clubs, we’re excited about what’s coming next (growth), and suspect you might want to hear about our plans, and why we made them. We have three audacious goals for the next three to five years (and if I get my way, we’re going to accomplish them in three years – not five!).
We’re going to expand our Clubs’ hours to be open every night and on weekends so that anytime kids aren’t in school or at home, they have a place that they actually choose to be.
School aged kids have 90 hours of discretionary time every week. Those 90 unstructured hours are a huge opportunity for us to be a part of kids’ lives. Right now, our Clubs are open after school until “the dinner hour”, and on average, 2-3 nights per week. By extending our Clubs’ hours so that they are open every week night, late on Friday and Saturday nights, and maybe even Saturday and Sunday afternoons we’ll double the amount of time we’re available to help kids achieve our 4 big outcomes life: have great relationships (with peers and adults), develop healthy living habits (daily exercise and healthy food), finish school, and have leadership opportunities.
We plan to open at least three new Clubs around the region in targeted neighbourhoods where kids need us most.
We want to be in every neighbourhood. Is that too ambitious? We don’t think so, and we have to start somewhere. So, we’re starting with underserved neighbourhoods where we know families struggle, and we’ll go from there. What we know already from our 12 neighbourhood Clubs (and the thousands of kids that hang out there every year) is that having a place to belong matters. Our work with kids builds their confidence, helps them make friends and find lifelong mentors, make healthy habits like being active and eating well, develop leadership skills, and helps them to finish school. What is central to our success is that BGC is uniquely great at developing meaningful and enduring relationships with kids that help them to know they matter, that we believe in them, and that they should believe in themselves. So three (at least) new neighbourhoods of kids that know they’re amazing? We’ll take it!
We will provide homes for homeless youth under 19 years old with an innovative model that meets kids exactly where they’re at.
I could write a novel about this particular goal, and I promise to write more on this again soon, but suffice it to say that there is a critical need in the Lower Mainland for kids who are currently living on the streets, couch surfing, or who are being sheltered in dangerous situations. We’re calling this initiative “Homes” because that’s what is unique about it. It is a model designed to offer a stable, supportive home, for as long as they need it, to kids under 19 who we work with (about 60 of them annually) under 19 who are currently on a path to a lifetime of homelessness. It has been described as the missing piece of the puzzle to solve homelessness in our community. It leverages everything that BGC already offers (youth and family counselling, social recreation in our Clubs and at Camp Potlatch, employment support, mentors and tutoring), with our trusted relationship with these specific youth to positively change the path they’re on. It is not only the right thing to do for each one of these amazing kids, it has the potential to be transformative for our community.
Sounds aggressive and bold, right? It is. And that’s exactly what we’re supposed to be on behalf of the amazing kids that we’re working for.
Let me know if you’d like to be involved – we want you in our corner. You can email me at [email protected] or call me at 604-879-6554 ext 103.