At Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana, the mission is to inspire and enable the youth of our communities to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens. One of the most important aspects that the Clubs work to nurture is physical and mental health all year round.
As for mental health, Clubs across Northwest Indiana offer many different programs to develop local youth. The initiatives help ensure members are on track to create and realize their own plans for the future as they strengthen the values of good character and live a healthy lifestyle.
Two notable programs that touch on both mental and physical healthy living habits are Too Good for Drugs and Smart Girls.
The Too Good for Drugs program includes speeches from knowledgeable figures in the community and interactive activities such as wearing ‘beer goggles’ that simulate what vision looks like when drunk, with the goal of steering local youth toward a drug-free life. Another program, Smart Girls, teaches girls about growing up, going through adolescence, and dealing with peer pressure, while encouraging anti-bullying.
Physical health is also important to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana. While the Club offers many summertime leagues, it is just as important for members to stay active during the colder months. The Clubs offers rock climbing, basketball, dodgeball, and soccer leagues, which allow members to keep up with their physical activity indoors.
League registrations end in early December, so be sure to visit Boys & Girls Club of Greater Northwest Indiana’s website at https://www.bgcgreaternwi.org/leagues/ . Here, you can find a full list of sports leagues offered at the Clubs and their respective forms to fill out.
Another great way for members to stay active during the winter months is to participate in interactive technology games, called Exergaming.
“For example, in order to play a certain video game, you must be riding a bike. Or, the games are interactive and get the kids moving while playing. These games really get the kids active while exercising their brains as well,” said Stephanie Hamilton, director of branding & digital services at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana.
Most Clubs offer interactive games, but the Duneland and East Chicago locations have an entire room dedicated Exergaming.
Hamilton stressed the importance of an active lifestyle in today’s youth.
“Overall health is so important. When kids are getting exercise, they are releasing endorphins, and this helps keep them happy. They burn negative energy and tend to sleep much better if they are active throughout the day,” she said.
In addition, kids also perform better at school if they are partaking in the needed amount of physical exercise daily.
“If kids are active, it really keeps their entire life balanced,” Hamilton said.
A great chance to have some family fun while being active is coming up on December 7 at Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana’s annual 5K Artic Dash and Little Igloo Youth Run. The run is in partnership with the City of Portage and will benefit Portage Township School Corporation. Whichever Portage Township school has the most runners signed up will receive a $500 donation for their school.
To sign up, visit https://runsignup.com/Race/IN/Portage/ExtraMileSeriesChampionshipRace for tickets and further information. Interested participants may also register online or by sending in the form to Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana located at 3691 Willowcreek Road Suite 200, Portage, IN, 46368. Interested members also may register the day of the event.
Participants are encouraged to dress in their best Ugly Christmas Sweater for a chance to win a prize. Registration for the event opens at 8:00 a.m. Stick around for some fun after the race and enjoy great food, music, and hot chocolate.