Recently, I was asked this question: In one word, can you describe what Boys and Girls Clubs does? My answer: belonging.
Why? Well, our belief that every kid is amazing plays out every single day at BGC. And “every single day” goes waaaayyyy back to 1936… which is A LOT of days! At BGC , whether kids are playing, participating in a planned activity like cooking, sports, or homework club, or even getting a little extra “supervision” because of their challenging behaviour, our young, cool staff accept and celebrate every kid for who they are, and guide them in a positive way. By getting to know them, we’re better able to support them to be who they’re meant to be, discover the things they’re uniquely wired to be great at, and live a great life. To kids, that feels like belonging, and they tell us so.
Recently, we’ve been enhancing the way we measure our impact, and to my point above, here are some of the things some 15-year-old youth, who’ve been members for 5 years or more, told us:
- “The Club is the only place where I get to be msyelf, where no one asks me to be different than who I am. They really like me!”
- “My mentor not only helps me with my homework, but gives me great advice, and I can tell him everything; I don’t know what I would have done without him this past year. He makes me want to do better and be better.”
- “At the Club, I learned how to stand up for myself, and say no to my friends if I didn’t want to do something, and that they’d still be my friend!”
This confirms everything that we know: that without belonging, kids are at risk for loneliness and isolation, and that is a dangerous road to travel. By giving kids belonging, they know and believe that they matter, and that good people will be around them to see them through the good times and bad. Perhaps most importantly, they are optimistic about their own abilities and their futures. Pretty great, right?
You may be too old to attend one of our Clubs or Camp Potlatch, but you belong here too, so if this resonates with you, please come and get involved. After all, this is our 80th birthday (hence, the previous reference to 1936!) so when we say it’s never too late to get involved, we clearly really mean it!
P.S. Over the next 80 days, watch for emails, tweets, and media coverage helping us to celebrate 80 years of belonging! #BGCMatters
P.P.S. If you’re an alumnus of our Clubs or Camp, or a former staff or volunteer, please send us your story, and why BGC matters to you (a pic would be awesome as well)!