HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — In a special report Saturday, June 22 at 6:30 p.m. WHNT News 19 takes an in-depth, raw and enlightening look into struggles at-risk youth face right here in Huntsville and the men and women dedicated to making certain these children do not become a product of their environment.
What do you really know about the Boys and Girls Clubs of America? Sure, you may have attended a club as a kid, but the work going on behind club walls these days is far more than bumper pool or basketball.
America’s kids are in crisis. Three out of 10 students will not graduate on time. Juvenile crime escalates between the hours of 3 and 7 p.m. when 15,000 children are left unsupervised every day. A third of U.S. kids are obese or overweight. One in five young people in America live in poverty. In communities all over the country, our youngest are left to find their own recreation and companionship in the streets.
Young people need to know someone cares. Boys and Girls Clubs of America offer that and more. With 300,000 staff and volunteers serving 4 million kids at 4,000 clubs in rural areas and inner-cities nationwide, club programs and services enhance and promote a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging and influence. A mission that goes far beyond recreation.
“Every program that we do has been tried and tested,” says Patrick Wynn, President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of North Alabama. “In every core area we have a staff of people. We don’t just create the program. They’ve been tried and tested by the program staff of Boys and Girls Clubs of America.”
Club staff and volunteers push children to ‘be great’ by focusing daily on a formula for impact consisting of three pillars: Education, Character/Leadership and Healthy Lifestyles.
To achieve excellence in these areas, club staff often face an uphill battle. Many kids, most of whom have only one parent, live in neighborhoods where negative influences abound.
“You’re fighting the gun trade, you’re fighting the drug trade — anything that’s evil you’re fighting out here in this neighborhood,” says Seminole Athletic Director Nicholas Jones. He speaks from experience. Jones spent nearly 20 years growing up in the rough-and-tumble north Huntsville community of Butler Terrace.
“It’s rough coming up out here to this day; some of these kids struggle to eat,” says Jones.
Not only do clubs expose boys and girls to new things like healthy snacks and lifestyles — it has been proven that when there is a Boys and Girls Club, juvenile delinquency decreases. Seminole Club Program Director Starrett Archie says clubs have been positively impacting kids quietly for years, but now it is time for people to not just see and hear — but to listen.
“We are like a best-kept secret,” says Archie. “We feel that in the future we are going to have a much larger and deeper impact to what we do, so hopefully this documentary will combat the stigma of the Boys and Girls Club is all fun and games, there’s no real substance there; we’ve changed strategically how we manage our clubs, how we do business and the way we approach our communities is changing dramatically and we hope this documentary will open the door for people to see.”
WHNT News 19 presents a 30-minute commercial free special Boys & Girls, on Saturday, June 22 at 6:30pm. Special sneak preview below: