Boys & Girls Clubs of Lower Bergen County Implements New Partnership Supporting Youth With Special Needs

BGC @ SBJC Program – Maywood, New Jersey

Recognizing the inequality and need for out-of-school time programming for youth with special needs, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Lower Bergen County (BGCLBC) partnered with the South Bergen Jointure Commission (SBJC), a New Jersey public school district whose classrooms are not defined by walls and whose students are not defined by their classifications, to provide an after school and summer enrichment program at their Maywood Campus Elementary School. The SBJC exclusively serves students with special needs including autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and behavioral challenges. Many of the young people attending the school have multiple disabilities.

Over a nearly three-year period BGCLBC, in partnership with the SBJC, planned and developed a program to remedy the lack of after school and summer out-of-school services and level the playing field for youth with special needs. The programs offer a rich mix of activities including Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BCGA) Triple Play dynamic wellness program, BCGA Healthy Habits nutrition curriculum, culinary arts, and recreational sports; youth development opportunities such as social skills; social emotional skill development activities which foster critical and creative thinking, empathy, decision making and problem-solving skills; and academic enrichment activities such as STEM. The program, which was made possible in part to a generous seed grant from Lakeland Bank, serves roughly 12 kids per day. The costs associated with such a program are greater than that of a general after school program, as more resources are developed, the program will be expanded to serve more children and grow to the other SBJC Campuses.

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