Boys & Girls Clubs giving kids a 'High 5'
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Boys & Girls Clubs giving kids a 'High 5'

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The Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana helps shape the future by giving young people the skills, support and affirmation to reach their full potential through life-enhancing after-school and summer programming.

Highly trained professional staff and adult mentors working from six clubs in Lake County organize and present educational, leadership and character-building programs to nearly 10,000 youths, 6 to 18 years of age.

Partnerships and collaborations with area school systems have grown with the implementation of Project Learn, a comprehensive education program incorporated into every activity at the club. A snack program is also available to all club members and the facilities have been updated to provide more of a fun learning environment for children.

However, keeping those programs and facilities going takes money. That’s the focus of the innovative fundraiser called the “High Five Challenge” that utilizes crowdfunding technology established by MobileCause. The goal is to raise $5,555 by the end of September.

It’s all about giving young people a “High Five” in life, said Ray Nedohon, director of development and marketing with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Northwest Indiana.

“We are encouraging adults and companies to set up a High Five online page,” Nedohon said. “For an individual, for example, set a goal of $55. A company might set a goal of $550.”

Then a donor promotes his or her High Five page to friends, families and co-workers. The funds build as others make donations to that page or create a page of their own. Social media and texting help create those connections, resulting in more donations.

Nedohon said the “High Five Challenge” also helps create more public interest for the six Lake County sites in Cedar Lake, East Chicago, Gary, Hammond, Lake Station and Merrillville.

“We believe every child deserves the support and affirmation to be able to realize their full potential, to feel empowered,” he said.

Children who have received that support agreed.

Seven years ago, George stepped into a neighborhood Boys & Girls Club as a 7-year old.

“The Club has showed me valuable communication and life skills,” said the now 14-year old. “One program that has showed me these skills is Passport to Manhood. It taught me how to be a responsible and respectful adult.”

A timid third-grader in 2012, Kayla said she has been transformed by her membership in the Boys & Girls Club.

“At the Boys & Girls Club I have made many friends, from many different schools,” said the 10-year-old. “I was very shy before I started to go here. Now I am not shy at all. I made friends with the staff and members. When I come here all the stress of school lifts off my shoulders.”

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