“Whatever it takes.” The mission at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is simply that: to do whatever they can to help their student members achieve a bright future. Through character readiness, career readiness, and mentorship, the Clubs lay a foundation for students to attain the life they want to have.
Through programs such as Smart Decisions, Smart Kids, and Smart Girls, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is preparing students to have a strength of character that will allow them to be caring and responsible citizens.
The Too Good for Drugs program teaches students how to be leaders and advocates for a drug-free lifestyle. The program’s curriculum focuses on how to make good decisions, set goals, know what makes a good friend, and develop leadership.
“Not only are we teaching our members to be advocates of a drug-free lifestyle but they’re also able to articulate the programs’ message clearly to their peers outside of the Clubs. So the reach of this program is well beyond our Clubs. The reach spreads out into our communities and touches everywhere and everybody,” said Orlando Drummond, Grant Manager.
By focusing on goal-setting, students are encouraged to set short- and long-term goals for their lives. Club staff then work with students throughout their membership years to help them attain those goals.
“Throughout the program, members work in teams to construct a plan on how to obtain where they want to be in life. It doesn’t just stop there. Staff work with them around meeting those short-term goals, whether focused on health, safety, or just trying to change their lives. Our staff are part of this process while Club members are in the program and beyond,” Drummond said.
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana is an excellent outlet for any child to discover just what they want to be when they grow from adolescence into adulthood. Through partnerships, volunteerism, and a variety of life-changing programs, Clubs offer so many opportunities that are not readily available elsewhere, expanding students’ horizons and helping them find new passions.
“Our Clubs are here for every child who walks through our doors. We have programs that interest all kids from ages 5 to 18. We have piano lessons if they have a passion for music, or we have rock-climbing walls, sports, STEM programs, and so much more. Our staff are trained to help kids work through whatever challenges they may have and to help them reach their goals. Through our programs, our youth development professionals are able to focus on our kids and truly help them build their dreams,” said Stephanie Hamilton, Director, Marketing.
Of course, all careers stem from a good education, and Clubs offer daily help with homework for any student who needs it, as well as one-on-one tutoring. Any child who needs that extra help can schedule time with qualified tutors, ensuring a solid path to educational success.
The Junior Staff Career Development Program allows older students to prepare for their first jobs by working in the Clubs and learning soft skills viable for any industry.
“This program is dynamic because it meets our members where they are in job skills as they go through a curriculum on job preparedness and job readiness. The goal is to pair with a staff member in the Club and begin working as Junior Staff members. We’ve seen our Junior Staff members gain new skills and be able to land a position outside of the Club,” Drummond said.
When it does come time for college or a career, staff at the Clubs offer services to help students make their next major step in life.
“As students get older, our staff will sit down with them to examine post-high school goals they set, and they help fine-tune those goals. Staff also help them write a resume to help find a job or help them with college applications, take them on college tours, and more,” Hamilton said.
Through a partnership with Boeing and ArcelorMittal, students at the Clubs are able to learn about careers in STEM fields. Through year-round programs, students learn about STEM processes and receive an upfront view of what a career in science, technology, engineer or math entails. For many, this provides a new passion and goal in life.
“Through our programming and exposure, we’re finding that kids who didn’t have an interest in engineering and technology have discovered a new niche and want to learn more. This program is giving us excellent results of which we are extremely proud. It’s very strong,” Drummond said.
Many community members visit the Clubs and talk with the students about their careers. It’s important for students to see real individuals talking about different careers, and this is one of many ways community members can volunteer and become involved with Boys & Girls Clubs.
“Our staff can talk about doctors all they want, but when kids actually meet a doctor in person and ask them questions, it’s a lot more engaging. For members to be able to see that and have that moment with the professional means a lot more,” Hamilton said.
The third pillar in preparing students for their future is providing quality mentorship programs. Working one-on-one with a mentor will help them tackle problems they may be facing so they can achieve their goals and dreams.
“Sometimes kids don’t want to talk to parents or teachers about problems. At our Clubs, they have staff that are like parental figures or an older sibling. So members are able to talk to their mentor in ways they wouldn’t to others,” Hamilton said.
Through mentorships, many children are creating positive changes in their lives, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana knows these programs can benefit even more children.
“Every child can use a mentor, some more than others. This program makes us that much more dynamic as a youth service organization,” Drummond said.
In all that they do, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana offers any youth who walks through their doors an opportunity for a bright future.
“We are in the business of enhancing young people in transformative ways,” Drummond said.
For more information on Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, visit their website https://www.bgcgreaternwi.org/.