Saturday, September 30, 2023

Edmondson: Boys & Girls Clubs a perfect fit for Denton County at-risk youth

Currently, Denton County is the largest county in the nation without a Boys & Girls Club. A Boys & Girls Club of North Central Texas operated out of Lake Dallas from 1993 to 2019. The organization had an average membership of 400 youth each year with an annual budget of $296,000.

At our meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 15, Daphne Barlow Stigliano, chief executive officer and president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County, talked to the Denton County Commissioners Court about her initial assessments of the need for setting up Boys & Girls Clubs in Denton County.

Photo courtesy of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Tarrant County

Officials spoke with key entities across the county, ranging from my office to Communities in Schools of North Texas, United Way of Denton County, Lewisville ISD, the University of North Texas, Peterbilt Motors, Salvation Army, Westside Baptist Church and others.

Two themes reverberated throughout the conversations – a need for more services for younger residents and a desire to create a partnership between entities, which became part of an initial needs assessment.

For instance, 18 percent of Denton County children face food insecurity challenges. Through the Boys & Girls Clubs, members are provided hot meals and nutritious snacks as part of the Healthy Lifestyles program, which develops young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors to nurture their wellbeing, set personal goals and grow into self-sufficient adults.

An estimated 60 percent of Denton County parents face difficulty in accessing programs incorporating mental health for their kids. Prevention programs increase critical social-emotional skills that young people need to engage in positive and productive behaviors.

About 25 percent of Denton County children are considered at risk of dropping out of school. Academic success programs ensure that all club members graduate from high school on time. Club members benefit from homework help, tutoring, STEM and literacy programming.

The initial vision outlined by Ms. Stigliano is to complete feasibility conversations with stakeholders across the county to determine the best approach for a pilot program. The stakeholders will include potential service partners, funders and board members.

After setting up initial funding and partners, the plan is to leverage mobile programming in strategic areas to gather information on the types of need in Denton County to establish a baseline for setting up a more permanent operation.  Programming and services then would be expanded in Denton County to address needs identified through the mobile pilot services.

Finally, the plan would entail developing long-term partnerships with key stakeholders in Denton County to establish and implement ongoing operational funding.

Taking this approach will set up a base for the Boys & Girls Clubs established in Denton County to have long-term success through developing partnerships among entities across the county. The organization, which was originally founded in 1860 in Hartford, Connecticut, has a long history of helping our at-risk youth by meeting basic needs and helping them gain a foothold in attaining their dreams.

I believe creating a Denton County Girls & Boys Club will provide an outlet for our at-risk youth as well as keep them in a program that will help them succeed and become tomorrow’s leaders. When this club is established, I hope you will consider becoming a volunteer to help the organization and our youth.

Contact Commissioner Edmondson by email at [email protected] or phone her at 972-434-3960. You can also stop by her office in the Southwest Courthouse, 6200 Canyon Falls Drive, Suite 900, in Flower Mound.  

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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