For many of the young people served by the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor, grief is a familiar experience. In partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the New York Life Foundation, the Clubs are implementing Be There, a new program initiative designed to support members through those emotional times of grief and bereavement. This past year, too many of our members have had to deal with the loss of friends and family members.
Through the Be There program, members will participate in 12 weeks of Ready, Set, Action! activities designed to create a safe and positive space for children and teens to explore their feelings. The strategies that are offered within Be There are meant to develop strong, supportive relationships among our youth, staff, families and community.
The New York Life Foundation and Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) recently announced an expansion of their national partnership to help local Club staff better serve grieving youth through trainings and technical support. Through the Foundation's $3 million grant, BGCA will increase member access to youth and grief resources by expanding "Be There: A National Grief and Bereavement Initiative" to 90 Clubs over the next four years.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor was chosen as a pilot site and awarded a three-year grant. The grant-funded project will enable Club staff to recognize the signs of a grieving child or teen and equip them with the skills to support the emotional needs of youth facing adversity, such as the loss of a loved one. Lakeland Healthcare has joined the initiative as a community partner to provide the Clubs additional instructional and technical resources.
“Coping with the loss of a family member or close friend is the leading cause of anxiety for our members. Club instructors are dealing with behavioral and social/emotional issues rooted in grief,” said Brian Saxton, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor. “Receiving the Be There grant increases our capability to help members manage their grief. We will have professionally trained instructors, an intervention process, and will form community alliances that support our youth and teen members when they are most in need. Thanks to this multi-year grant, we can continue to develop young people to live both physically and emotionally healthy lifestyles."