As another New Year begins, it seems to me that the headlines are “same old, same old”: Times Are Tough, Fundraising is Harder and Harder, etc etc etc.
I think that the most upsetting re-run is that BC once again has the highest rates of child poverty in the country. This has been very much on my mind of late, as I puzzle over how we are at once appalled and accepting of that sad reality. In part, I think it could be because we have trouble believing what we can’t see. People (including children) hide what they are ashamed of (after all, it’s difficult to admit that you’re struggling to provide for your family…or that your parents don’t have any food for you at home) and so the picture of child poverty largely remains behind closed doors.
Perhaps another piece of the equation is this unspoken belief that some people hold: “it’s not my kid…it’s not my problem.”
Meanwhile, I’ve come to believe that one critical element of creating the kind of world we all want – caring, just, peaceful and abundant – is to raise children well.
Like every problem that needs solving, we need to take both the immediate and long view to reducing rates of child poverty. Boys and Girls Clubs endeavour to do that every day by reaching as many kids and families as we can today (currently, 12,000 annually) while making strategic decisions to position us to do even more in the future. Concurrently, raising awareness of the issues facing children and families is as important, especially if it helps to gather everyone into our efforts to give EVERY kid the things that they need to grow up to be their best selves.
So, how do we get from here to where we want to be in terms of child poverty? It seems that we may want to examine the way we prioritize our social investments (public, private and charitable) versus the issues that we say are most important to us. If child poverty is unacceptable, then it stands to reason that we, with all of our tools, privilege, and networks, can change it together!
For our part, BGC knows that breaking the cycle of poverty for each individual child starts with believing in them, and helping them to build their confidence and life skills. From there, they can make a picture for their future that includes and celebrates their family and where they came from, but that isn’t defined or limited by it. That is a generation of children that will grow up to be unstoppable!
If you’d like to help us in our efforts to do that, please find us at www.bgcbc.ca.
All the best to you for 2014!