Club Kids Unite Against Bullying

An estimated 13 million children across America are victims of being teased, taunted and physically assaulted by their peers, making bullying a true epidemic. In efforts to mitigate this very real and terrifying issue that many kids deal with on a daily basis, the month of October has been named Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Many organizations across the nation are uniting to help put an end to this issue and it all starts with the simple act of educating the public and helping kids speak up about their hardships. Through Cope Boys & Girls Club’s Bully Out Program, many Club Members are receiving the education and positive reinforcement that they need to help end bullying.

An antsy, excited, little hand shoots straight into the air, Bully Out Participantsinching for maximum height until it is finally called on. “At my house, we have a golden rule. And it is to treat others as you want to be treated,” states an eleven-year-old at Cope Boys & Girls Club. Despite this being an excellent golden rule, this Club Member, along with seven others, has landed herself a spot in the Bully Out Program due to previous acts of aggression within the Club.

Dealing with bullying is a common hardship faced by many of the kids attending Boys & Girls Clubs who are growing up in poverty-stricken neighborhoods where there is a strong presence of crime. Luckily, Julius Flores, the Cope Branch Manager, not only understands but also empathizes with this as he experienced the same as a kid.

“We all have scars and stories to tell,” said Julius. “When you end up in the Bully Out program, you inevitably have a story to tell.”

Five years ago, Julius and one of the Club Members, Moises, realized there was a need to help educate Club Members about the repercussions of bullying. While varying levels of aggression can be found in schools, neighborhoods, families and sometimes in the Clubs, often times kids lack the proper guidance to know how to respond appropriately. Moises decided it was time to fix this issue and came up with the idea of running an anti-bullying program called Bully Out.

Jabari_JengaOver the course of five years, the Bully Out Program has become a huge success gaining notoriety on Cartoon Networks nation-wide Speak Up Against Bullying campaign. The program is now lead by Cope Club Member Jabari who has refined his teaching skills to include hands-on and visual learning activities. Jabari’s students prove to respond positively to his teachings as they are constantly eager to participate. The ability to engrain real-life lessons of the repercussions of aggression and bullying into these kids’ minds is what Jabari loves most about leading this program.

“When you see kids absorb the information and make positive changes in their lives, that is what I love most,” said Jabari.

The Bully-Out Program operates on a positive reinforcement system in which Club Members have a huge incentive to participate. Once a Club Member’s name gets put on the Bully Out List for showing signs of aggression (verbally or physically), they cannot participate in extracurricular activities, such as attending any professional athletic sporting events when tickets have been donated to the Club, until they have attended four sessions of the Bully Out Program. While attending these sessions, the kids learn about the negative impacts of the different kinds of bullying (social, cyber, direct, indirect and physical bullying). They also learn how to react to bullying if they are the victim. By the end of the fourth session, they leave with a greater awareness of the repercussions of their actions and the knowledge that they will always have an outlet to a safe source of help, if and when they need it.

With the current success that the Bully Out Program is having, Julius has high hopes of gaining future support to continue to grow impact of this program and expand it across Denver!

Are you interested in joining the movement to end bullying? Help The Bully Project put an end to bullying and take the pledge to join the movement!

Also, visit the BGCMD YouTube page to see Moises speak about the Bully Out program on Cartoon Network.

 

Club Kids Spread Energy Conservation Awareness

Torch Club is a leadership program offered for Boys & Girls Club Members between 10-12 years-old that have demonstrated exemplary behavior and continued participation within the Clubs. In order to qualify, members must volunteer within their Club for a minimum of one-hour per week helping different teachers and departments. There are many incentives to get involved in the Torch Club as Club Members get the opportunity to work on multiple engaging nation-wide projects and participate in special events such as Scream Scram and Fun Fridays.

Throughout the course of the school year, Torch Club Building ParametersMembers work on three big projects pertaining to Education & Community, Social & Recreation and Health & Fitness. Sound familiar? These projects align with all three Priority Outcomes Areas that BGCMD highlights. Under each category, the Torch Club Members get to pick what their projects will focus on. This fall the Torch Club at Vickers Boys & Girls Club decided to work on an energy audit project. The idea for the project started with one simple question: “How much money does it cost to run this place?” Often, it is difficult for kids to fully grasp the impact of their actions to the monetary cost. By calculating the amount of energy used to the money spent, an energy audit is the perfect project to help put things in perspective.

Sister duo Joan Gregerson and Mary Ann Stack volunteered with the reading program at Vickers Boys & Girls Club over the summer and instantly knew they wanted to get more involved. When they heard about the national energy project that the Torch Club wanted to compete in, they knew they could lend a helping hand. Both engineers in their own right, they were the perfect fit to help guide the Torch Club through an energy audit of the Vickers building.

Over the course of several weeks, Joan and Mary Ann have structured the energy audit project to give kids real work-world experience. The kids are learning the basic key elements to project management along with how to properly apply the scientific method. During each Torch Club session, the mentors break the kids up into groups tasked with different focus points to research. Within each group, there is a project manager, materials manager, quality control manager and an overall facilitator.

Torch Club Light Bulb LessonUpon completing this project, the kids will have learned how to calculate the monthly energy used in the Vickers Club going through the process of measuring the parameter of the building to calculate the total square footage and testing different types of light bulbs to learn about the varying watts consumed. The final project will consist of the kids creating a video to present their findings. The video will focus on energy awareness and be presented at the Harvest Festival on October 23rd to all parents, Club Members and the community. The video will then be submitted to a national energy awareness competition. After all is said and done, the Torch Club Members hope to spread energy consumption awareness around their community and help teach their peers how to save energy and money!

 

Are you interested in volunteering with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver? Contact Brianne Rock our Volunteer Resource Director at BrianneR@bgcmd.org or 303.446.6821.

Running Made Fun

Ask them to run and not only will they run, but they will do it with a big smile on their face! Club members across Metro Denver have truly embraced the FrUNning Club (Fun Running). BGCMD’s Healthy Lifestyles Team is bringing the fun into running while teaching Club members much more than just proper running technique. With each running lap completed, kids are learning the importance of living an active and healthy lifestyle while also learning how to set goals and train for a race.

The neighborhoods in which many of the Club members liveFrunning Group Photo do not offer the necessary outlets, such as parks and running trails, to encourage physical activity. Without the Clubs’ encouragement, running would not be a dot on these kids’ radar. Fortunately, with the guidance of our Health Staff, kids are now realizing how running is a great and accessible way to maintain a physically active lifestyle. Every running session begins with a group stretching session. The runners are learning about the different muscles groups in the body pertinent to running and why it is important to warm them up first. While running their laps, the Health Staff helps to teach the importance of knowing  how to pace yourself and explore their different speeds or running. The kids have also learned how crucial it is to tune into how their own bodies are feeling and allow themselves time to walk if they get too tired.

This fall, the Club members are also learning how to set goals, work to meet those goals and benchmark their progress while getting rewarded along the way. The Kids Running America is a nationwide race working to involve kids in running and help combat the epidemic of childhood obesity. At the Wilfley Club, runners are competing to get one of six scholarships donated from Kids Running America to compete in Denver’s race on October 26th. In order to qualify, members need to show strong attendance rates at the FrUNning Club and document a total of 25 miles prior to the race. While 25 miles might sound like a lot of miles for a kid to run, over the course of several weeks, Club members are already nearing their goal. Taking it day by day, they log how many laps they have run. Every four laps equals a mile and they are then rewarded with earning beaded necklaces. Through this process they are learning how to make small strides towards achieving a bigger goal at large! For those six runners that are selected to compete in the Kids Running America race, they will run 1.2 miles in total at Washington Park. The miles ran prior to and at the race combined will be the equivalent of running a full marathon.

The FrUNning Club members will also have the opportunity to close out the fall running season at BGCMD’s Scream Scram 5k Run/Walk. We are excited to see the what kinds of Halloween costumes they will arrive in! If you are interested in joining in on the Halloween fun go to our events page for more details and to register!

Meet Club Member Hamdi

Seventeen-year-old Hamdi has been going to the Wilfley Boys & Girls Club since 2009. For the past five years, the Club has become more than her “home away from home”; it is her “home away from the streets”. And for Hamdi, that means everything in the world. Migrating from Africa with nothing more than $20 when she was a child, Hamdi’s family is no stranger to life on the streets.

Hamdi WebpressHamdi recounts the long, rocky and uncertain road they had to endure upon their arrival, “We moved a lot from house to house, but it was never the houses that made us feel at home; it was the fact that we were together throughout the ups and downs.”

Her family eventually became the fortunate recipients of a Habitat for Humanity house in Denver. Hamdi’s parents have relied heavily on community resources while raising eight children living on the poverty line. This is why Hamdi and her younger siblings depend on the doors that the Wilfley Club has opened for them. Not only has the Club offered a safe haven for the children to go to after school, but for Hamdi, the Club programs have helped put her on track to graduate high school with hopes of attending college next year.

Through participating in the Keystone Leadership program, Club athletics and the Reading Buddy Leadership program, Hamdi has developed a maturity well beyond her years. She thrives in stepping into leadership roles across all facets of her life. At Wilfley, Hamdi’s warming social nature presents a comforting role model for many of the younger kids to look up to and go to if they need help.

Over the years, Hamdi has learned the importance of overcoming fears and being able to ask for help, “It can be scary to ask for help. You feel vulnerable,” said Hamdi. “But the staff here has been so kind to me. They are always here for me when I need help with anything in my life.” At home, she often times needs to be more than just a big sister to her three younger siblings, “At one point, both of my parents were in the hospital. I was the only one left to take care of the little ones.”

The Keystone Leadership Program has also helped Hamdi become passionate in working with people and become involved in the community. During her high school years, she has logged numerous volunteer hours working with organizations such as the Ronald McDonald Foundation, women’s shelters and elderly retirement homes. Within the Wilfley Boys & Girls Club, she is working to help change the perception of the neighborhood and get more kids off of the streets and into the Club. “People on the streets call this area the ‘Northside’ – the side where nothing good happens out on the streets. I am trying to bring out the good side of this area,” said Hamdi.

Hamdi’s positive attitude and community involvement are prime examples of the positive change that can happen at the Clubs.

Despite all of the hardships Hamdi and her family have had to overcome, she continues to strive for positive change and wants to give back to the community that has supported her and her family through the years.

Hunger & Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Make healthy life choices. Maintain a well-rounded diet and exercise daily to live a longer, healthier more energetic life. This concept is not new. However, for many, due to a lack of necessary resources while living in poverty stricken areas, this is easier said than done. The month of September is dedicated to drawing awareness to two specific health related issues that most would not guess are connected: Hunger and Childhood Obesity. Though drawing a connection between hunger and childhood obesity may seem counterintuitive, the trends of children growing up in poverty-stricken areas reveal an undeniable link between the two. Serving those who need us most, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver draws in many kids who live in neighborhoods which do not provide easy access to encouraging healthy lifestyles. However, with the help of our Healthy Lifestyles Team, Club members are provided outlets to learn about nutrition and how to maintain a healthy lifestyle. While our Healthy Lifestyles Team works year round with Club members to positively encourage and educate them on healthy life habits, here are a couple of things that have been highlighted during the month of September in recognition of Hunger and Childhood Obesity Awareness month.

Residents of low-income neighborhoods often have little or no access to full-service grocery stores with nutritious, healthy foods (areas known as food deserts) and are often limited to shopping at convenience stores where, when available, healthy food is more expensive than cheaper, calorie-dense foods. BGCMD’s Solutions:

  • Vickers Food ProgramFree Grocery Program at Vickers Boys & Girls Club: Eating healthy is easier when you have convenient and affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables. That is why Vickers Boys & Girls Club at the Nancy P. Anschutz Center has formed a partnership with Denver Food Rescue to run a free grocery program at the Club once a week. Since beginning this program in July, it has been a huge success. Routinely providing an assortment of fresh fruits and veggies, Club members are getting the opportunity to try new food like apricots. The verdict: they love them!
  • Nutrition Education: Knowledge is power; especially when it comes to making healthy choices when shopping for food and cooking. Health Specialists are working with Club members to teach them how they can nutritionally benefit most from the foods available to them. Providing weekly Healthy Cooking Classes, kids are learning how to cook meals for themselves. Most recently, the Health Specialists taught kids how to make sweet potato fries. The cooking nutrition lesson of the day focused on the importance of fiber. Kids were sent home with a sweet potato and a recipe to teach their families how to make the healthy snack at home.
  • Limit Sugar Intake: Commerce City Boys & Girls Club has completely eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages from their Club and all the other clubs are working to remove unhealthy snack options from the Clubs.

Lower income neighborhoods have fewer physical activity resources than higher income neighborhoods, including fewer parks, bike paths and recreational facilities, making it difficult to lead a physically active and safe lifestyle. Low-income children are also less likely to have recess at school and are less likely to participate in organized sports. BGCMD’s Solutions:

  • Highlight the benefits of walking: Commerce City Boys & Girls Club is getting pedometers for their Club Members and will host step counting challenges.
  • Daily Workout Challenge: Creating healthy habits of excellence is key to maintaining optimum health. Commerce City Boys & Girls Club is encouraging the kids to commit to exercise routines by providing daily 20 minute physical challenges with all their Club Members.
  • Weekly Yoga:   Club Members at Boettcher Boys & Girls Club have the opportunity to take yoga classes while learning the benefits of practicing mindfulness, balance, focus and awareness of breath.

Visit our Health & Life Skills Programming Page to learn more about what our Healthy Lifestyles Team is up to.

United in Orange

BroncosHalftime_photo_quoteAs the September weather begins to cool, a crisp bite in the air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High subsides as the fans energy begins to fill the stadium; it’s time for football! At 6:30 p.m. with the blow of a whistle, Sunday, September 7th kicked off the Denver Broncos’ first official game of the 2014-2015 NFL Season. Every year around this time, with orange sunsets radiating through the warm blue skies above a sea of Bronco’s fans dressed in orange and blue paraphernalia, there is a strong sense of unity amongst the Denver community.
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Tennis groups work with Boys and Girls Club in Commerce City

Source: The Denver Post YourHub

Some kids in Commerce City are using tennis rackets to help them with school.

The United States Tennis Association and the Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation are working with the Commerce City Boys and Girls Club to support a tennis league.

“We know that when we get a kid on the tennis court, they are going to learn skills that they can take off the court and incorporate into life,” said Lisa Schaefer, associate executive director of USTA Colorado and Colorado Youth Tennis Foundation.

Jorge and Rosa Vazquez agree with that.

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New Adventures: Exploring Yellowstone

"Hiking into the wild, not knowing exactly what might be found; grizzly bear tracks, the bond of shared experiences or the simple pure joy of being with friends." -Julian

“Hiking into the wild, not knowing exactly what might be found; grizzly bear tracks, the bond of shared experiences or the simple pure joy of being with friends.”
-Julian

After a full summer of successfully fulfilling their duties as youth leaders and exceeding their goals at their respective Clubs and Gates Camp, ten Club Members were rewarded with an unforgettable week of exploring Yellowstone National Park. Thanks to Yellowstone Adventures, these Club Members got to learn copious amounts about the history and landscape at Yellowstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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