Thrive, not just survive: Hope meets opportunity at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Hawai`i

Hope meets opportunity in every one of the more than 4,000-plus Boys and Girls Clubs in the United States serving more than 4 million youth, ages 7 to 17. The Boys and Girls Club of Hawai`i serves over 10,000 youth in eight clubs on two islands (O`ahu and Kaua`i) daily. These kids want to thrive, not just survive and they are doing exactly that! They are busy, happy and engaged.

Where else in Hawai`i can a child get five core services delivered daily for $1 per year? These include character and leadership, education and career development, health and life skills, arts and culture, and sports, fitness and recreation.

My personal theme for 2012 is “Thrive, not just survive!” This is way more than just “hanging in there” or “hanging out” as some might say. We strive mightily to give our kids a “growth mindset” which means that their lives require strong effort, learning (and relearning) key life lessons and accepting as “teachable moments” those instances where mistakes are made. Positive coaching, accountability, constructive encouragements and even “grace” at times are the order of the day at BGCH. This is community building and leadership creation at the grassroots level.

Hawai`i has about 200,000 children under age 18. School age kids are released from school about 2:30 pm daily to clubs like ours, other youth organizations or to the streets. They are part of over 40 million youth in the same situation nationally. It is up to us–the community–to find safe, positive and productive alternatives. Better to be playing on the basketball court than find them in the juvenile court or worse. I say this as a retired Hawai`i state trial judge with more than 30 years of family court and criminal court experience.

Often our Club kids are from single-parent homes. Many are first-generation residents. Some are like my son who loved the club because “it’s just for kids, Dad!” We open our doors to all and greet our kids with a smile and programs tailored just for them. I tell folks with utmost conviction that “we at BGCH are saving lives!”

Bottom line: Kids need hope and opportunity. Most youth are upbeat, enthusiastic and ready to learn and make a difference. Many national, state and local leaders were “Club kids” and they readily acknowledge proudly this opportunity.

BGCH is over 30 years old. It is a positive place for kids. Check us out. Visit us at our website ( and visit our clubs in person. Volunteer to help, using your time, talent and treasure. We need your energy. You, the youth and our community will be the better for it.

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