When you think of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, you probably think of after school care or summer camp. You may not think that they are part of the health system. They do offer many programs that enhance children’s healthy lifestyle, so they can be a great resource for those in need of a healthy environment for their children.
The BGCA’s mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens” (www.bgca.com). All parents and caretakers want their children to have the best childhood and all the advantages available to them. Sometimes due to a job or home situations, children do not have the best childhood experiences. This is not any of their faults and they need to have access to an environment where they can be supported and cared for. The BGCA is that place for many children.
Three women who felt that boys who were roaming the streets needed a positive option, started this program in 1860 in Hartford, CT. Their priority was character development, improving behavior, and giving these boys experiences that they may never have gotten otherwise. They also had high expectations and goals for all the boys who attended. That was just the beginning of this wonderful organization.
Along with sports & recreation, education, career development, character & leadership programs, the BGCA has health & wellness programs as well.
*Passport to Manhood for 11 to 14-year-old boys teaches responsibility with groups that concentrate on particular facets of character building and manhood so that these young men can have a healthy and productive life.
*Be There for 6 to 18-year-olds is a program that builds knowledge of childhood bereavement and helps grieving youths and their families. It is hard when a child loses a loved one at a young age because this person was most likely a huge influence in their life. Having someone to speak to as a mentor and confidante is very important.
*SMART Moves for 5 to 15-year-olds is a program to educate youngsters on making good decisions so that drug/alcohol use and premature sexual activity/pregnancy can be prevented. Many of these children may be repeating patterns of the families they live with because that is the life that they know. A little education can go a long way in preventing these negative behaviors.
*CyberSafety for 11 to 13-year-olds is a cyber bullying knowledge and preventative program. It gives youngsters the skills they need to stay clear of negative influences while online and promotes a safe, polite online society.
*SMART Girls for 8 to 17-year-old girls promotes health, fitness, and self-esteem enrichment for girls in a very impressionable stage of their life. It shows them how to live healthy, fit, and positive lives.
*Healthy Habits for 6 to 15-year-olds focuses on good nutrition, regular exercise, and a positive overall lifestyle. Many of these children may not have the opportunity or role models to learn these things at home so this is a great community in which they can learn about and carry through with a healthy lifestyle.
Utilizing the website is a wonderful resource for anyone who needs information on assisting boys and girls with any health, social, emotional or physical programs that the BGCA offers. There is a spot to enter your zip code in order to find the closest BGCA. These clubs are offered all over the US and if there is none in your town or city, they can probably get some type of transportation to help your child attend their program. They are all about helping boys and girls any way they can.