Boys & Girls Clubs play a crucial role in helping youth and families with nowhere else to turn.
Our nation is facing challenges unlike anything previously encountered. Young people across the world are adjusting to a new normal of social distancing and virtual learning. While every community in the U.S. has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact is especially stark for Native communities.
Native communities are often on remote lands with limited economic potential. Many are isolated from modern markets, hospitals and other critical infrastructure. Social distancing is difficult to a community where gathering together is deeply ingrained into the culture and where multiple generations are often living in the same household.
The impact of COVID-19 is exacerbated by existing cycles of economic uncertainty and food insecurity. With the current environment, COVID-19 has had a crippling effect on nutrition and food access.
Despite these odds, Native communities have a wealth of cultural strength to draw upon. And for many Native youth, that includes access to support that Boys & Girls Clubs on Native lands provide. More than 200 Native Clubs serve 120,000 kids and teens in 28 states.
“Right now, Native kids and communities need Clubs more than ever,” said Carla Knapp, National Vice President of Native Services at Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “We play a crucial role in helping youth and families with nowhere else to turn and it is imperative that we continue to provide services to those that need us most.”
Although Native communities are struggling, Clubs are providing critical relief securing nutritious food, distributing basic supplies like bleach, wipes and hand sanitizer, and providing essential staff support through high quality programming and services.
“Besides feeding hundreds of kids each day, our Club staff are calling our members checking on their well-being, helping them with homework and reading books,” said Larry Long, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Red River Valley/Wilson & Ardmore in Oklahoma. “Every afternoon we are using Facebook Live to reach our members. We are doing exercises, cooking classes and educational enhancement programs.”
Other Native Clubs across the nation have modified their services to meet the needs of Native youth and families in their communities. They are distributing meals, offering childcare services for essential workers and providing virtual support to Native youth who are without school or a Club.
Our nation’s vulnerable youth need us now more than ever. Support Boys & Girls Clubs and help Native kids get the meals and resources they need during the COVID-19 crisis.