Special to the Gazette
Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston (BGCB), one of the city’s leading youth-serving nonprofit organizations, hosted “The State of BGCB” – a public annual convening that addresses the issues directly impacting the organization’s members, families, and surrounding communities.
The program featured Robert Lewis Jr., BGCB’s Nicholas President & CEO; Michelle Wu, Mayor of Boston; Jim Clark, President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America; and a panel discussion addressing the state of Boston youth’s mental health and health equity. The panel, moderated by Petrina Martin Cherry, Boston Medical Center Vice President of Community Engagement & External Affairs, included Dr. Kevin B. Churchwell, Boston Children’s Hospital President & CEO; Leslie Aldrich, Massachusetts General Hospital Implementation Officer for Equity & Community Health, and Frederica M. Williams, Whittier Street Health Center President & CEO.
The panelists addressed the severe health equity disparities and mental health epidemic that is currently plaguing Boston’s young people. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one-in-six American teens report experiencing consistent symptoms of anxiety and depression and one-in-four have a diagnosed mental health condition. Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among adolescents between the ages of 10-14 and access to care is largely inequitable for much of Boston’s youth.
To address health inequities, as well as support our members as they strive to achieve academic success and workforce readiness, Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston has launched its new strategic plan to ensure all BGCB members have the access and opportunities they need to become our next generation talent pipeline.
As Robert Lewis, Jr. noted, “We intend to be the surest path to success for youth in Boston and Chelsea – and we are committing that all our members, by age 18, will leave our sites READY – for college, career, military, trades – to lead lives of success and impact.”