My first real job was as the director of an innovative performing arts program at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carlsbad, CA. I was twenty years old when the founding leadership of the program moved on to start what would become a very successful dance studio in the same city. Most of the teachers in the program moved with her, but I felt strongly tied to the Boys & Girls Clubs mission and my students, so I stayed. By default, I become the head of the program. I was there for several years, and our program received national recognition and was a part of a new wave of interest in arts enrichment. But, more important than that to me, was experiencing the Boys & Girls Club as a safe place for kids to learn, play, and grow. The BGC Movement has remained close to my heart, and that is why I could not be more excited to make this announcement.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Kids Included Together (KIT) have entered into a formal partnership to open more opportunities to children with disabilities by providing inclusion training and positive behavior support to staff members at 4,300 local Boys & Girls Clubs across the United States. The goal of this partnership is to support Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s broader goal of creating safe, positive and inclusive environments for all children and youth.
KIT has worked with many Boys & Girls Clubs in our 20-year history, but this partnership will exponentially increase our impact. We will be providing free customized inclusion resources (checklists, assessments, tip sheets, planning tools) to every Boys & Girls Club around the country and on every military base around the world. This month we will celebrate National Disability Awareness Month by presenting a series of 5 KIT webinars aligned with BGCA’s Five Key Elements for Positive Youth Development. KIT training will be available to BGCA professionals at regional and national conferences.
As the partnership develops, we will be embedded at Clubs through our training & coaching model, collaborating on a National Inclusion Council, and working with BGCA to develop inclusion standards to be shared with the Club Movement. All of this effort is designed to help staff working in local Clubs provide a high-quality experience for every child.
Our vision at KIT is a world where every child with a disability can realize their full potential in a welcoming, supportive community. This partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America helps us take a giant step towards achieving this vision.
Please join me in welcoming Boys & Girls Clubs of America to the Kids Included Together family!