The Conflict Cycle illustrates that to overcome adverse conditions and traumatic experiences, young people need hope, self-esteem, and empowerment—all part of the Boys & Girls Clubs daily programming.
The program continues to evolve here at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor. Currently, Andrews University interns are conducting a survey at the Fettig Youth Campus. Based upon the Michigan Health Model, the results of the survey will point to the most prominent trauma-based issues our kids are experiencing. This in-depth analysis will lead to better understanding and more targeted programming. In combination with existing programming that helps build self-esteem and enhance self-image, such as SMART Girls and Passport to Manhood, individual counseling helps members address issues that are causing bad behavior, problems in school, and even juvenile delinquency.
The Clubs’ priority is to provide a safe, positive, out-of-school setting. Inside the Clubs, a team of instructors has attended a mental health first aid class at Riverwood Center with the support of a grant from the Berrien County Family Court. If the team of instructors and social work interns need additional resources, youth members and their families can be referred to the Andrews University Psychology Department for weekly counseling. That evolution is in the beginning stages, but is another way the Clubs can help members overcome the issues they face.
The Clubs are asking, “What happened to you?” rather than, “What is wrong with you?” By identifying a problem, using data, benchmarking best youth development practices, and forming a coalition of supporting partners, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor are leveraging resources. These resources help members develop new conflict management capabilities, increase personal character and resiliency, and learn how to approach a problem from a different perspective.