BGC Afterschool program
BGC Canada is the largest provider of afterschool programs in Canada. Our approach to working with children and youth is grounded in the latest research and meets the developmental needs of children at a very important time in their lives. Every child deserves a chance at a great future. Our afterschool programs bring out the best in children. Clubs provide safe, caring and healthy environments that inspire, challenge and support vulnerable children to succeed. Club programs offer children the opportunity to exercise autonomy and choice, build healthy relationships with peers and mentors, and explore and develop positive life skills that extend beyond formal education and last into adulthood. By offering diverse services and resources for children and youth, we help ensure that they have a strong sense of place in their community, that is experienced as ‘‘a source of security, belonging, meaning and identity’’ .With over a century of experience, BGCCA are leaders in creating enriching afterschool environments, helping counter the effects of childhood trauma, and social and material deprivation. BGC adapts to local needs, but they all share three common features that are at the core of evidence-based afterschool programs. RESPECTFUL, INCLUSIVE AND ENGAGING ENVIRONMENTS Kids need a safe place to go when school is out where they can play, be with friends and make choices about how to spend their time. That need is even greater among low-income families and in rural communities. Afterschool programs provide children with ample opportunity for choice ---- an important developmental task that promotes autonomy and self-determination. Such programs allow young people to try out activities and roles, thereby broadening their self-concept. Child-relevant environments that provide consistency and a supportive structure are positively associated with physical health, well-being and social competence. Most importantly, a physically, emotionally and culturally safe environment is at the heart of the trauma-informed practice. Safe spaces are imperative in helping children become resilient in the face of trauma and adversity.
RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING AND MENTORING Peer belonging and relationships with adults are strong predictors of life satisfaction. They are of central importance to children in their middle years and are ‘‘positively associated with physical activity, healthy eating, and avoidance of health risks. Group mentoring has long been the hallmark of BGCCA. Distinct from the traditional one-to-one model, group mentoring provides a social environment for children to interact, see that their problems are not unique, and forge closer friendships with peers. Community support in the form of caring interactions between non-parental adults, children and youth is a highly recognized protective factor for resilience. Mentoring relationships with caring adults give young people a sense of belonging, competence, well-being, and connection. They balance encouragement with clear and consistent rules, structures, boundaries and expectations that reinforce positive and responsible behaviors. The more supportive relationships a young person has with non-parental adults, the fewer behavior problems they display. The sustained presence of caring adults in the lives of young people has particularly positive effects on a young person’s healthy development.
COMMUNITIES AND FAMILIES Community conne
ctions are a ‘‘non-negotiable element of supporting learning and development across all the contexts in which children learn and grow’. BGCCA programs exhibit high quality, in that they ‘‘effectively develop, utilize, and leverage partnerships with a variety of stakeholders, especially families, schools, and communities.’’ Clubs are leaders and role models in the community and are critical catalysts that enable schools, local businesses, community volunteers and leaders to work collaboratively in the best interest of young people and their families. Boys & Girls Clubs are often situated in neighborhoods that have few or no recreational facilities offering programs during afterschool hours. We’re filling a widening gap in young people’s access to extracurricular activities and programs that help them succeed and improve their life outcomes. Club programs promote social inclusion. All children are welcomed, accepted and celebrated.