Often we are asked what sets our Boys & Girls Clubs apart from other youth development agencies, and before we talk about mission, or ideologies, we always start with STAFF.
Our Staff are what makes the difference each and every day in each of our locations. The staff have to supervise and protect our Club kids and keep them safe. They have to be knowledgeable enough to help with homework, but also keep up with the latest fads, fashions and slang. They have to know when to be a Club kid’s confidante, mentor or basketball buddy. And with dozen of Club kids in each location, they have to be that person dozens of times over each day.
Our staff are selected because they’re the best, or capable of becoming the best at these tasks. Many are education majors, and there are even a few certified teachers floating around! All have experience working with children, and undergo state and national background checks, fingerprinting and medical evaluations.
In addition to the rigorous screening process, our Club staff must undergo at least 15 hours of training each year. We train on topics like small group dynamics, large group dynamics, conflict resolution, peer-to-peer communication and many others. We also train in CPR and First Aid.
Last Monday, on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our staff trained on a topic that’s becoming more prevalent in our nation and in our Clubs: autism.
Cassie Biccum, an educator from The Center for Discovery, came and provided background information, technical advice and scenario-based learning for how our staff can improve their work with children diagnosed with autism.
Some quick facts about the growing prevalence of autism in our nation:
- Autism now affects 1 in 88 children and 1 in 54 boys
- Autism is the fastest-growing serious developmental disability in the U.S.
- Boys are nearly five times more likely than girls to have autism
- There is no medical detection or cure for autism
We strive to provide the best environment for our Club kids to thrive, and trainings like this are a great tool to help our staff AND our Club kids succeed.
Our thanks to Cassie for volunteering her time for this training.
For more information on autism and autism spectrum diagnoses, please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/ .