Optimist Club hear local Boys and Girls Clubs meet challenges

Bart McFadden, president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley, said the futures of today’s children are challenged more now than ever.

“We see a lot of things in the news today around youth, around kids, that quite frankly is very depressing and very scary,” he said.

However, he said his own organization’s programs can help. McFadden spoke about BGCTNV to West Knoxville Optimist Club Thursday, June 2. He handed out a fact sheet during the presentation that gave specific statistics.

“The things that our club does for kids in Knoxville and the surrounding counties truly do transform lives,” he said.

The fact sheet said for every dollar invested in BGCTNV there is a $12.47 positive economic impact in the community. It said young people who attend the club for 105 days or more are twice as likely to graduate high school.

“If a kid comes to a boys and girls club they’ve got a pathway. They’ve got the support. They’ve got the opportunities and the expectations … to be successful and to release their full potential.

“The mission of BGCTNV is to enable all young people to reach their full potential as responsible, productive and caring citizens,” McFadden said.

McFadden’s organization serves 79,000 children in Knox, Blount, Loudon and northern Anderson counties. Tennessee Valley Boys and Girls Clubs has 19 clubs in the region, he said.

During McFadden’s presentation, he talked about the three areas on which Boys and Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley focuses. He listed academic success, healthy lifestyle and good character and citizenship.

Regarding academics, he talked about academic enrichment, college preparation and graduation preparation programs of BGCTNV. He talked about summer brain gain, a program which provides learning experiences during the summer.

Regarding health, he said BGCTNV provides nutrition information and finds ways to keep children active. He also said BGCTNV had provided 579,275 USDA hot meals and snacks to members free of charge in 2015.

Regarding good character and citizenship, he talked about community service opportunities available through BGCTNV.

He described the variety of clubs in the area. Seven clubs are based out of schools. Six are in traditional settings. Four are in public housing. One is at Knox County Juvenile Court.

He said even though BGCTNV are primarily employee driven, they have a plethora of volunteer opportunities.

“Volunteers are great,” he said.