Children
 Canada
Project #7623

Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada-Support Young People

by Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada
Vetted
Club Kids at Gander Boys and Girls Club
Club Kids at Gander Boys and Girls Club

THANK YOU for your support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada! Because of you, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is able to provide opportunities for youth and children. Please continue to read below to learn about one of our Clubs in Gander, Newfoundland.

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“Eating right, keeping fit and forming positive relationships are fundamental activities at our Club,” says Lori Roache, Program Coordinator for the Gander Boys and Girls Club. Gander is home to about 10,000 people and probably best known for its transatlantic airport and an important strategic role during World War II. The Gander Boys and Girls Club is also aware of another lesser known but important fact— Newfoundland and Labrador has Canada’s highest rate of obesity among youth. “That’s why we jumped at the chance to offer Triple Play when it was introduced by Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada last year,” Lori says. Triple Play was created by Boys and Girls Clubs of America to provide Club members aged 6 to 18 with opportunities to participate in daily physical activity and learn how to develop a healthy approach to mind, body and soul. The program is available in Canada thanks to the support of The Coca-Cola Foundation. “During the summer, the Club offered lots of opportunities to boost physical activity through the Triple Play program, including field trips featuring swimming, hiking and adventuring,” Lori explains. The physical activities are complemented by wellness focused pursuits, like learning a new healthy recipe once a week and group activities and peer mentoring to help the youth develop self-esteem as they interact positively together. “During the school year, Triple Play participants stay closer to home, playing spirited games of Four Square and having group discussions about wellness and smart food choices,” Lori adds. “Best of all, programs like Triple Play allow us to adopt an open-door policy so that all of the town’s young people have opportunities to get together in a safe place to be active and have fun with their friends after school.

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What do you think? Are you interested in more information about how you can support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada? Please get in touch - spillersdorf@bgccan.com or 1 - 844 - 477 - 7272 ext. 271

BGC of Bonnyville staff are breaking down stigmas
BGC of Bonnyville staff are breaking down stigmas

Across Canada, Boys and Girls Club staff members are ready to flex!

A national program promoting mental health and well-being for youth, Flex Your Head is being offered by a growing number of Boys and Girls Clubs in 2016, thanks to  new online training and a downloadable guide that gives staff the knowledge and skills to facilitate youth group collaboration and dialogue.

Created by Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, with initial support of AstraZeneca’s Young Health Program, Flex Your Head encourages youth aged 13 and up to recognize that anxiety and pain are normal. The program typically runs for 12 weeks and begins with youth leadership training followed by a variety of fun group activities to prompt discussions about emotions and well-being. The program introduces young people to strategies for recognizing emotional cues and identifying thoughts that seem to occur automatically in different situations.

I just love the program’s language and approach,” says Kim Reed, program director with Boys and Girls Club of Bonnyville. “Anxiety and sadness are unavoidable. It’s just life. But dealing with these emotions is a skill that can be learned.” With over 10 years’ experience as a high school counsellor, Kim has seen a lot of young people overwhelmed by depression and worry. “I would certainly have used this program in a school setting to help the kids manage their distress,” she says.

Flex Your Head includes a menu of activities from which teens can choose that are designed to tease out concepts and strategies like mindfulness, maintaining good relationships and asserting needs in a youth-friendly and engaging way.

Kathryn Robertson and Kathy Hodges of the Boys and Girls Club of Wetaskiwin both enjoyed the online Flex Your Head training and are offering the program to Club teens this year. “I love the activities that teach youth about mental wellness,” Kathryn says. “The program really breaks down the stigma around mental illness.” Kathy agrees, adding that a relaxed and teen-friendly space allows the youth to problem solve as a group in a very supportive way. “We’re giving our young people a safe place to talk about feelings and think about the kind of person they want to be.”

Alexandria- Boys and Girls Club of Leduc
Alexandria- Boys and Girls Club of Leduc

THANK YOU for your support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada!!  Because of you, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is able to provide opportunities for youth like Alexandria. Alexandria was a Club Kid at the Boys and Girls Club of Leduc, where she made friends, gained new skills, and built confidence through leadership opportunities.

See below for Alexandria's story about her experiences at her local Club– and how Boys and Girls Clubs are helping youth find achieve their full potential.

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Alexandria was a shy, reserved child when she first walked into the Boys and Girls Club of Leduc five years ago. Today, she is a confident leader and role model, chasing her post-secondary dream and eager to give back to the community.

“The Boys and Girls Club brought me out of my hardened exterior,” Alex recalled. “I lived on a reserve for the first 12 years of my life. Times were tough growing up . . . Where I came from, drugs and violence were the norm. When I moved to Leduc, I didn’t really want to make new friends but when I joined the Boys and Girls Club, the staff and volunteers helped me see myself differently. They told me, ‘you’re an awesome person, you can make friends. We’re here to make you feel accepted.’ That really made me feel like I could finally open up. I started shedding my tough exterior and started becoming the person I am today.”

This year, the bubbly 17-year old completed high school and will now channel her passion for the arts, learning and child care into a Bachelor of Education and Native Studies at the University of Alberta.

The budding high school teacher’s motivations are noble.  “I plan to get my education degree and major in Cree languages and move to a reserve again. I want to help people who haven’t had as many opportunities as me," she said.

“I never really thought university was a goal. My goal was to get through high school, day by day. It’s such a thrilling feeling to know that I’ve accomplished so much and there’s so much more now I want to do.”

Alex’s post-secondary dream was made a reality thanks to a Future Shop Future Generation scholarship, which provides recipients with funding for tuition to make the transition to post-secondary much easier. In addition to the scholarship, Future Shop in Edmonton also provided Alex with an iPod and a laptop loaded with amazing programs.

“Without the scholarship, I would have finished high school but I would be applying for student loans to get money for university and balancing a part-time job . . . It would have meant more stress and pressure for sure,” she said. “The laptop has definitely allowed me to be more creative with my projects, strengthen my computer skills and make it easier to do research. I had a computer at home but it was a big old clunky one.”

Alex has no doubt her journey would have been “more rocky” without the support of the Boys and Girls Club, what she calls ‘my second family, my home away from home.’

“The Boys and Girls Clubs taught me self-respect and I grew from a hoodlum child to a young woman with a purpose to help everyone. I made it through because I had the support of the whole Boys and Girls Club behind me. If I had a bad day, they’d always be there and encourage me not to give up,” said Alex.

Carol, who works at the Leduc club and has seen Alex blossom through the years, said Alex’s success story was one that really resonates at the Club.  “She’s definitely developed her confidence and perseverance. I remember when she received the scholarship at Future Shop and her saying, ‘people do believe in me.’ Her whole outlook changed,” she said. “Alex has started her first year at university and she made a lasting effect on the kids in our Club. They still talk about her fondly.”

It’s evident that the members have had a lasting effect on Alex too. “Today, I’m a leader,” Alex said proudly. “Seeing the kids light up and tell me they want to be like me, it’s crazy actually. In the past, i someone said to me, all of these kids look up to you and want to be like you…I would have just shrugged it off. Now I tell them every day they can be anything they want to be.”

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What do you think? Are you interested in more information about how you can support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada? Please get in touch – you can reach Sarah at spillersdorf@bgccan.com or 1-844-477-7272 x271.

Doug
Doug

THANK YOU for your support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada!!  Because of you, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada is able to provide opportunities for youth like Doug. Doug is a member of our National Youth Council, which provides opportunities to youth from across Canada – enabling them to gain new skills and build confidence through leadership opportunities.

See below for Doug’s story about his participation in this year’s National Youth Conference in Winnipeg, MB – and how Boys and Girls Clubs are helping youth find achieve their full potential.

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A beautiful thing happened on the campus of the University of Manitoba in May. Two hundred young people from all over the country gathered to fuse cultures and learn from one another. As a member of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada’s  National Youth Council, I was one of the group responsible for developing the themes and executing workshops for the Fusion 2015 youth forum. This was an amazing opportunity—being a part of the youth council has been the greatest thing ever!

I organized a workshop to teach kids how to find a voice using tie-dye. In the 1970s, teenagers used tie-dye as a form of artistic expression and rebellion, but I chose tie-dye mainly because it was relevant to me. In a way, I never really had a voice until I discovered it. When I was younger I was shy, but after I walked into a shop and bought a tie-dye shirt, things changed for me. That shirt gave me confidence. I decided to learn how to make them.  The workshop at this year’s conference ended up being amazing . . . everyone was extremely engaged and very knowledgeable about social situations happening in the world, like the #blacklivesmatter campaign. I got everyone to brainstorm ideas and write down things that they had seen on the news.

The conference focused on what youth are doing today to make Canada a more inclusive place. We were a group of people from diverse backgrounds and yet we were similar.  Like putting on my first tie-dye shirt, attending Fusion 2015 and being a part of the National Youth Council has changed me.  After meeting everyone and hanging out, I started to get more comfortable with who I am. I started to realize that anything and everything is possible! Being given  responsibility is a proving ground for finding your potential. The Boys and Girls Club took a chance on me and gave me a chance to prove that I can lead. I have potential.
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What do you think? Are you interested in more information about how you can support Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada? Please get in touch – pwalker@bgccan.com or 1-844-477-7272 x232.

Nelson Lang
Nelson Lang

When he was 6, Nelson Lang discovered something in his backyard that would transform his life. His house backed right onto the Eastview Boys and Girls Club (now the Boys and Girls Club of Durham) and it became his home away from home.

“It kept me out of trouble and kept me going to the right place,” says Lang, who moved to Oshawa with his brother and father after his parents separated when he was 5.

“My dad was working a lot and then I was on my own at 16 because he kicked me and my brother out. In Grade 11, I was living at a buddy’s house, trying to get through school.”

Even then, the Club was always there for him, teaching Lang the life lessons one typically learns at home.

“You can go down a bad path or a good path and it’s up to you which path you decide.”

Lang chose a good path.  He worked part-time at a pizzeria as he finished high school and later opened up one of his own when he was just 22.  But national pizza chains were beginning to expand and dominate and Lang began to think it was time for something healthy and different in a competitive fast-food market.

Searching for the answer, Lang and his business partner were inspired by Toronto’s culinary mosaic and envisioned combining diverse ethnic foods into one concept. Their goal was to make and serve great food with love and when they found a lease in Kingston, Ontario, close to the university, the first Pita Pit restaurant was opened.

“The passion in the beginning was just to make sure the one store did really well. Then it just started to snowball; there was so much interest in it,” Lang says. “In seven years, we’d opened up 200 stores—it just exploded.”

The Pita Pit franchise continues to grow and opened its 500th store in July 2014, with restaurants in far flung places like Australia, Dubai and India. Lang says he remains true to his vision: serving healthy, quality sandwiches in a fast-food market with good people to run each location.

Now a successful businessman with a global company, Nelson reflects on what he learned while growing up with the Boys and Girls Club and credits learning the value of teamwork.

“You learn to play together as a team or as a unit, or you don’t win. And that’s no different in life.”

The Club remained a constant for Lang growing up, no matter what changed around him. He remembers one staff member, Neil Keilans, as “an amazing man and mentor” who stayed in touch with Lang and years later, attended Lang’s wedding.

Now, with four daughters of his own, Nelson is grateful for the “good, safe environment” the Club provided for him. “As I look back, I hope that my kids can be in the same kind of environment the Club gave me.”

 

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Organization Information

Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada

Location: Toronto, Ontario - Canada
Website: http:/​/​www.bgccan.com
Project Leader:
Sue Sheridan
Toronto, Ontario Canada

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