National Boys & Girls Club Week, April 16 -20, is the time each year when some 4,000 communities across the nation, including our communities here on the Kenai Peninsula, celebrate the important work of their local Boys & Girls Clubs - saving and changing young lives, every day, every week - all year long.
It's even more significant this year, as our local Clubs undertake a campaign with a special emphasis on increasing support from individual donors in our community. Given the important role of the Clubs, there's no reason why every caring citizen shouldn't add his or her name to the honor roll of supporters.
When it comes to our kids, we usually think of the home, with a solid family life and parental guidance, as the answer to nurturing and protecting them. But for too many children in America, including our community, there's a gap. Research indicates the hours of 3-8 p.m. are the most dangerous time of day for young people - when crime involving youth doubles - as they leave school and return to empty households or neighborhood streets, idle and unsupervised.
The answer, according to experts, is to provide after-school programs in every community. In neighborhoods with effective programs, most youth-related problems are minimized. Children are safe, they're involved in life-enhancing experiences with caring adults and meaningful challenges, and they can better deal with the larger threats and fears affecting our nation and our world.
The folks at Boys & Girls Clubs believe every child and teen should be involved in a safe, structured, supervised after-school program, every day. As we prepare to celebrate National Boys & Girls Club Week with our Clubs here in Soldotna, Kenai, Nikiski, Seward and Homer, may all parents, educators, caregivers and community leaders stop to consider what more can be done to make this idea a reality.
One tangible step is to support the Clubs' annual fundraising campaign. It's an investment in our community's most precious resource - our children.