Clubs Share Role in Increasing Vaccine Access
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services co-hosted a virtual event featuring U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy, Boys & Girls Clubs of America CEO & President Jim Clark and National Association of County and City Health Officials CEO Lori Tremmel Freeman to talk about the State of Vaccines: Increasing Access In Your Community and the Role of Boys & Girls Clubs. The event was attended by hundreds of Boys & Girls Club leaders from across the country and featured testimonials from individual Boys & Girls Clubs on how they are participating in vaccine awareness and education in their own local communities.
“I am proud to have organizations like Boys and Girls Clubs across the country as partners as we work together to vaccinate as many Americans as possible against COVID-19. Boys and Girls Clubs are trusted messengers in their communities and have gone above and beyond in serving them, especially our younger Americans, during this pandemic,” said Dr. Murthy. “Their leadership will continue to be essential as our nation recovers from the effects of COVID-19.”
Currently, there are over 50 Clubs hosting vaccination sites and nearly 400 Clubs that are engaged in vaccine education and promotion, with more getting involved every day. Clubs have been working closely with local elected officials and securing additional partnerships to meet the needs of communities. Boys & Girls Clubs of America recently partnered with the White House and Microsoft to donate new Xbox consoles to Boys & Girls Clubs in hard-hit communities to help drive awareness and education around the vaccine. This partnership focuses on efforts at 425 Boys & Girls Clubs with a special focus on states with lower vaccination rates.
“Boys & Girls Clubs of America is a mission driven learning organization, serving youth in every community across the country. The pandemic revealed unprecedented challenges and illuminated where and how racial disparities and inequities can rapidly manifest,” said Jim Clark, president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “It has strengthened our resolve in responding to and preventing these inequities and in working toward the great futures we want for all youth, no matter the insurmountable circumstances. Every day at our Clubs, we see the importance of community and what can happen when we work together and help one another. We’re grateful for leaders like Dr. Murthy and our shared commitment to the safety and success of young people. We know the COVID-19 vaccine is one of the most important layers of protection we have to keep communities safe."
During the pandemic, Clubs have stepped up – offering a safe place for America’s youth to have academic assistance and technology, snacks and meals, and the emotional support of Club staff and mentors. Health and wellness is one of the main priority areas at Boys & Girls Clubs who offer programs to help develop young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors that support their physical, mental and emotional well-being.
Five Boys & Girls Clubs representing different communities shared their impact stories, discussed how they are increasing engagement and presented their own vaccine education and outreach efforts, spotlighting how Clubs have worked to increase awareness and access to underrepresented communities. The Clubs included the McAllen Boys & Girls Club in Texas, Boys & Girls Clubs of West Alabama, Boys & Girls Clubs of Skagit County in Washington, Olivet Boys & Girls Club in Pennsylvania and Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County in Wisconsin.
“The health and safety of our Club members have long been our highest priority,” said Ron McHenry, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Skagit County. “The opportunity to ask questions of Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy that directly relate to the challenges we see in the field of encouraging vaccination adoption will provide us additional tools to engage our families and limit further interruptions to the development of our kids and teens.”
“Boys & Girls Clubs of Dane County and our partners are honored to have had such an impact on our local communities during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Michael Johnson president and CEO of Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. “Our feet hit the ground running on day one and we have not stopped yet ensuring that everyone stays healthy.”
“We appreciate the Surgeon General taking time out of his schedule to speak with Boys & Girls Clubs leaders from across the country. Before, during, and after the pandemic, Clubs are and will be on the front lines of providing hope and opportunity to children and teens who may be overlooked and underserved,” said Kim Turner, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of West Alabama. “By meeting with leaders from all cross sections of our country, Dr. Murthy and his team are receiving firsthand knowledge of the obstacles directly related to the health and welfare of America's young people. We are receiving the best information we can get from the most trusted sources to make our communities safer for our members.”
“We were happy to share our story with Dr. Murthy. We saw an immediate need for an organized and dedicated effort to provide vaccinations to the underserved population of our community once we realized we were facing significant misinformation on the effectiveness of the vaccine, coupled with a lack of access to vaccinations for our most vulnerable populations,” said Chris Winters, CEO & President of the Boys & Girls Club of Olivet. “Nonprofit organizations like Olivet Boys & Girls Club, Centro Hispano and our other community partners stepped in, filling the void and leading the effort to respond to the needs of our community. We needed to get back to normalcy in our youth development efforts and the COVID vaccine was the tool to fight the lack of hope among our youth caused by the effects of the pandemic.”
“At the start of the pandemic Boys & Girls Clubs across the country opened their doors to serve the families of frontline and essential workers,” said Dalinda Gonzalez-Alcantar, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of McAllen. “We continue to be the main pipeline for reliable and accurate information for our families and neighborhoods especially when it comes to opportunities related to social services, COVID testing, and now vaccinations. Inviting clubs to the table will no doubt give Dr Murthy first-hand knowledge of successes and challenges regarding vaccine hesitation in Latino communities.”
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For 160 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has provided a safe place for kids and teens to learn and grow. Clubs offer caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Boys & Girls Clubs programming promotes academic success, good character and leadership, and healthy lifestyles. More than 4,700 Clubs serve over 4.6 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more about Boys & Girls Clubs of America on Facebook or Twitter.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America