boys and girls club

A Look at the History of Boys and Girls Clubs of America

The roots of Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) can be traced back over 150 years to when three civic-minded Connecticut women organized the first club to help boys in need to get off the streets. From its humble beginnings, BGCA has become a well-respected national organization with a presence in communities across the country, as well as Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and military bases worldwide. Keep reading for a closer look at the history and evolution of BGCA.

 

Early History – Club Beginnings

boysandgirlsclubIn 1860, sisters Mary and Alice Goodwin joined Elizabeth Hammersley in founding the first club that would form the basis of BGCA. Known as The Dashaway Club, it began casually when the women invited a group of boys roaming the streets into their Hartford, Connecticut, homes for refreshments and recreation. The Dashaway Club soon expanded its home-based locations, leading the founders to rent a meeting hall to hold activities for club participants.

Two decades after its founding, The Dashaway Club underwent a reorganization led by another prominent Hartford woman, Mary Stuart Hall. Hall, who was Connecticut’s first female lawyer, renamed the club The Good Will Boys Club and directed its focus on proving that misbehaved street children could develop into productive members of society if given the right support and guidance. She specifically used her background in law to teach the boys and young men societal rules and expectations. Hall worked closely with the club for nearly five decades until her death in 1927.

 

Clubs Spread across the Country

By the time Hall began the reorganization of The Dashaway Club, similar organizations had already been established in cities outside of Hartford. One of the first of these was a club in New Haven that formed in the early 1870s. Led by John C. Collins, the club was based on a system of supportive guidance that is still a large part of the BGCA environment. Collins went on to develop a network of clubs throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts.

Another early club, and one of the first to use “Boys’ Club” in its name, was The Boys’ Club of New York. The organization was founded in 1876 on the East Side of Manhattan by railroad magnate E.H. Harriman. As it grew in popularity, the club had to move to a five-story building to accommodate the large number of members. Soon, these early boys’ clubs in New York and New England were joined by similar organizations in other parts of the country. By the early 20th century, over three dozen clubs were operating in cities such as Philadelphia, Indianapolis, Nashville, and San Francisco.

 

Becoming a National Organization

The growing number of boys’ clubs in the United States led a group of early club leaders to join forces as part of a national movement. Their work led to the founding of the Federated Boys’ Clubs in 1906. The 53 clubs that comprised the federated union were the original members of a national organization that would be renamed Boys’ Clubs Federation in 1915 and Boys’ Clubs of America in 1931.

Over the next few decades, the Boys’ Clubs movement continued to spread across the country. By the early 1970s, the United States was home to 1,000 Clubs serving 1 million children. In 1980, the organization dropped the apostrophe from its name to become Boys Clubs of America. However, this name was short-lived.

Starting in the 1950s, Clubs nationwide had also started welcoming many female participants, a fact that wasn’t reflected in the “Boys’ Club” moniker. To recognize that girls were a welcome part of the organization, its leaders launched an effort to change its name in the late 1980s. In September 1990, the national organization’s name was officially changed to Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

 

Boys and Girls Clubs Today

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, membership in Boys and Girls Clubs of America continued to grow. By the time BGCA celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2006, approximately 2,000 local Clubs were helping over 2.5 million children and teens. Today, BGCA membership sits at over 4.7 million youth at more than 4,600 Club facilities.

In recent years, BGCA has focused on expanding the reach and scope of its programs. There are now over 1,000 Clubs in rural areas and nearly 500 BGCA-affiliated youth facilities on military installations around the globe. Additionally, there are more than 300 Clubs in public housing areas and nearly 200 Clubs on native lands.

From the earliest days of the organization, the programming at BGCA has sought to build good character and leadership while promoting healthy lifestyles and academic success. While the focus remains the same today, the group’s Academic Success Programs have changed somewhat in recent years to emphasize 21st-century skills. Members across all Clubs now take part in a variety of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) activities via programs such as Computer Science Pathway, DIY STEM, and Tech Girls Rock.

This type of programming now plays a key role in ensuring that BGCA can fulfill its mission and vision in order to help young people reach their full potential and find success as responsible, caring, and productive citizens. More information about BGCA’s history and its current programs is available at www.bgca.org.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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weight-lifting health

Raising Awareness Year-Round at the American Heart Association

AHAlogoThe global team behind the American Heart Association (AHA) works each day of the year to improve the health of people worldwide. As part of these efforts, the organization oversees a variety of events and initiatives focused on health- and/or fitness-related themes. At AHA, nearly every month is dedicated to raising the public’s awareness of the ways they can stay safe and healthy.

Here’s an overview of several AHA months and events:

 

February – American Heart Month

A federally designated event, American Heart Month has been observed every year since 1964. The goal of American Heart Month is to bring awareness to the issue of cardiovascular disease, which is the leading cause of death worldwide. In recent years, American Heart Month has placed special focus on raising awareness of heart disease among women, even naming February 1 as National Wear Red Day.

 

March – Nutrition Month

Many of AHA’s themed months and events are focused on providing people with the tools and knowledge they need to lead healthier lives. During Nutrition Month, the organization offers tips and resources to help people make smart food choices that can benefit their heart and their health overall. Some of the resources highlighted during Nutrition Month include the AHA’s Healthy for Good initiative, which seeks to inspire healthy changes through good nutrition and exercise.

 

April – Move More Month

Like Nutrition Month in March, April’s Move More Month is part of the AHA’s mission to encourage people to improve their lives by striving for good health. According to the AHA, nearly half of all adults in the United States do not get enough physical activity to stay healthy. During Move More Month, the organization offers tips for exercise success and works to raise awareness of programs such as Kids Heart Challenge and the NFL PLAY 60 Challenge, both of which are aimed at increasing physical activity among the nation’s youth.

 

May – American Stroke Month and High Blood Pressure Education Month

At the AHA, May is focused on preventing and raising awareness of strokes and educating the public about high blood pressure, one of the main stroke risk factors. In partnership with the American Stroke Association, the AHA has assembled several tips to achieve ideal health and avoid hypertension/stroke-related problems. Tips include eating a well-balanced diet, quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, and being physically active.

 

June – CPR and Summer Safety Month

In addition to helping people improve their health, the AHA serves as the nation’s global leader in providing CPR training and emergency cardiovascular care training. Throughout June, the organization highlights this work and raises awareness about the importance of knowing CPR. The AHA also takes time during the month to offer summer safety tips for people of all ages.

 

July – Quality Improvement and Summer Heart Health Month

While staying active in warm weather is important, it can also lead to heat-related illnesses that are often preventable. The AHA uses what is typically the hottest month of the year to help people avoid issues such as heat exhaustion and heatstroke. The Association’s leadership also uses the month of July to focus on its quality of care initiatives aimed at improving health care nationwide.

 

August – Heart Walk

Each August, over 1 million people in more than 300 cities across the country take part in the AHA Heart Walk, the organization’s largest fundraising event. Along with raising funds to fight heart disease and stroke, the Heart Walk gives people the opportunity to celebrate survivors of heart disease and stroke while literally taking steps to boost their own health.

 

September – World Heart Day and Other Awareness Events

September is a very busy month at the AHA. On September 29, the organization partners with the World Heart Federation in observing World Heart Day, which focuses on inspiring people around the globe to take control of their heart health. September is also devoted to raising awareness of peripheral artery disease, childhood obesity, atrial fibrillation, and cholesterol. All of these issues fit into the AHA’s broader goal of improving health worldwide.

 

October – World Stroke Day, World Thrombosis Day, and Diversity & Health Equity

October is another busy month at the AHA. One of the main events of the month is World Stroke Day, which is held on October 29. More than 7 million Americans are stroke survivors, and World Stroke Day aims to reduce this number in the future by helping people learn how to minimize their risk. The AHA also uses October to promote health equity and observe World Thrombosis Day, an annual event held on October 13.

 

November – Research and Eat Smart Month

Over the last seven decades, the AHA has spent over $4 billion on cardiovascular and stroke research. November is when the group highlights its past research while raising awareness of future research priorities. November is also Eat Smart Month, a time when the AHA educates the public about healthy eating habits. This education includes advice such as swapping traditional Thanksgiving fare for healthier options.

 

Disclaimer: This website contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. This information is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy or validity of any statements or information provided on this website. Do not rely on this information as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or another professional healthcare provider. You should seek immediate medical attention if you think you are suffering from a medical condition. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.