In 2014, the Boys and Girls club saw 400 children and youth and 120 families accessed its programs, said the club’s executive director Matt Neufeld during an update to council during the regular meeting last Tuesday.
“We served more than 1,200 meals and snacks,” Neufeld said. “Most of our services are served at no cost or very little cost.”
Some of those programs include harm reduction education, independent living, after school day camps, mountain biking, baseball, nutrition, health care, music and workshops.
The club has full laundry facilities and showers.
Through the club, 20 children were connected to recreation opportunities and 10 were housed to live independently.
The club is open to youth up to age 18. Neufeld said the Boys and Girls Club is developing an app for parents and youth mental health workers with up-to-date information on available services.
The organization also relies on volunteers and received more than 800 hours of volunteer hours in 2014 for special events and programs.
“We have dedicated volunteers and staff. I don’t think we’d have what we have without them. They are very passionate about the youth in this community.”
Presently there are 16 people on staff, ranging from the core workers to casual youth workers. When asked how closely the club works with other organizations, Neufeld said Williams Lake is great for partnerships.
“We sit at the table with many other groups,” he said.
The club’s mission statement is to provide a safe supportive place where children and youth can experience new opportunities, overcome barriers and form positive relationships and develop confidence and skills for life.
Children and youth arrive at the club through word of mouth, through referrals from other agencies or even reading about the club on Facebook.
Program services leader Linda Bingham said the club’s drop-in youth centre offers a monthly calendar that changes depending on the interests of the youth.
“We offer cooking, movie nights and career prep programs,” Bingham said.
There’s also a flex your head program, that’s run through the national office.
“It’s a mental health promotion program about normalizing mental health, teaching youth what’s healthy and what’s not, that we all experience mental health issues.”
There are modules with a number of different activities staff can use to cater with youth.
A bit of stigma is attached to the Boys and Girls Club because it is open to everyone.
“We are accepting of any youth who come through our doors as long as they are respecting our rules,” Bingham said. “We don’t allow any stigma the youth are experiencing from the outside of the centre affect how we treat them on the inside of the centre.”
Every youth that walks through the doors is treated the same, no matter what is going on with them outside in the community.
“They come in with no judgement,” she added. “That way every youth has equal opportunity to participate and learn.”
The club will hold its annual Street Party, on August 26 from 6 to 9 p.m.
This is a free event for all ages!
For the little ones: bouncy castle, art, water fight (at about 7 p.m.), hockey shoot, jumbo games (jumbo kerplunk, snakes and ladders, pick-up sticks, etc…), remote control race cars and more.
For the bigger ones: graffiti art, remote control race cars, hockey shoot, paintball target shoot, water fight (at about 7:30pm), and more!
The club will be serving a hotdog barbecue with the first hotdog for free.