TESTING THIS

Kindness Club — Be Great! Be Positive! Be Kind!

The Boys & Girls Club of Watertown’s mission states, “To inspire and enable all young people to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.” Now more than ever, kids need to feel encouraged, supported, and safe.

Annually, we assess the well-being of members through a Boys & Girls Club of America national-driven survey. This survey asks members about their perceptions of the Club and their overall feelings about being a member. From this youth survey, we recognize an improvement is needed in youth members being nice and respectful to each other. It also goes hand in hand with our efforts to give a sense of belonging and a safe and supportive environment. With the addition of a Behavioral Health Social Worker last spring, we are excited to have her develop and create a Kindness Club at the Boys & Girls Club of Watertown. Youth members of the Kindness Club were nominated by their peers. It is currently made up of 9 members who will serve as Kindness Ambassadors throughout the Boys & Girls Club and the community. Under the direction of our Behavioral Health Social Worker, this group will help plan and execute kindness initiatives at the Club, such as special events, random acts of kindness, service projects, and inspirational wall art.

Kindness Club is introducing its work to other Club members on Wednesday, September 28th, when our Boys & Girls Club will celebrate Kindness Day. We encourage you to think about how you might do something for someone on Wednesday and help us spread kindness throughout our community.  Kindness Day is celebrated in conjunction with the generous support we received from the Dale Larson Family Foundation.

Dale Larson is the retired CEO and president of Larson Manufacturing Company, the nation’s leading manufacturer of storm doors and storm windows. Dale and his family have been loyal supporters of Boys & Girls Clubs for many decades. Their investment in Clubs and youth perfectly displays their genuine care for kids and will allow us to be a safe, positive, and sustainable place for youth to grow now and into the future. Dale Larson would remind everyone “to share is to care.” We hope that Dale can inspire you to share your talents, your time, your treasures, and most importantly, your kindness.

The benefits of a Kindness Club at the Boys & Girls Club are endless, but here are a few to note. Boosting confidence: when peers are encouraging and happy for you, this increases your confidence to try something new and get out of your comfort zone. Improved academic outcomes: when a child is in a positive and supported environment, they can focus and concentrate on the tasks at hand rather than have worry-filled thoughts. Reduces bullying: by learning more about what it means to be a good friend, children are less likely to bully. Feel safer: when the entire group is working to create a kind and welcoming environment, kids feel safe and comfortable. Finally, kindness is contagious: when someone does something nice for you, it seems only natural to spread kindness yourself. As the Kindness Club does its acts of kindness, we hope that other members will respond by doing the same.

With generous support from the Watertown Area Community Foundation Women and Giving program, we will have the funding to implement the Kindness Club to its full potential. Funding will be used to purchase prizes and incentives for Club members, t-shirts for Kindness Club members, and program supplies to help the group work on projects for random acts of kindness, special events, and service projects. We will also use the funding to purchase inspirational wall decals and posters. The wall decals and posters will work two-fold, as they will provide constant reminders of being kind and help our programs feel warmer and inviting.

This grant will serve all youth and teens who attend Boys & Girls Club programs. So far in 2022, the average daily attendance for youth has been 382, with over 1,440 registered members. As the Kindness Club grows and becomes more established, its projects will reach out to engage the community and make an even bigger impact.

Take a listen below to hear a couple of the Kindness Club members explain their group. This segment will air on KXLG’s BGC News Beat. BGC News Beat airs each Tuesday at 4:15pm on KXLG 99.1 FM.

Kelly Jaderborg