PHOENIX, AZ (STL.News) Governor Doug Ducey announced $1 million in federal funding to support the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs in its efforts to help kids recover from the social and emotional implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re working around the clock to get our kids caught up, but learning loss is just the beginning of the challenges they face,” said Governor Ducey. “Our kids also suffered socially and emotionally from being away from their classrooms, teachers and friends. Arizona’s kids missed out on a year of spending recess on a playground, participating in sports, learning how to engage with others and far too much more. Our Boys & Girls Clubs were critical in giving our kids a safe place to play and learn during the pandemic, and they will continue to be as we emerge from it. We’re dedicated to supporting Arizona’s Boys & Girls Clubs in their efforts to help our kids fully recover from a year as tough as last.”
Governor Ducey’s $1 million investment will support a one-year program that will provide up to 5,000 kids and teens with critical life and social-emotional skills training. The Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs will use the funding to support salaries of critical personnel, develop curricula, provide equipment such as computers and tablets, and more.
In this program, the Boys & Girls Clubs will use the Positive Action curriculum, which is designed to help youth address trauma, anxiety, depression, self-harm and more. They will also use a training called SMART (Skills Mastery and Resilience Training) Moves, which helps kids build social-emotional skills of self-regulation, impulse control and stress management. The Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs plans to deploy the program statewide using local clubs and youth development professionals.
“Our kids have been through so much, and we should do everything in our power to get them back on track,” said Josh Stine, Director of the Arizona Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs. “This investment will help us improve our kids’ emotional and mental wellness after all the devastation of last year. On behalf of all the Boys & Girls Clubs in Arizona, I want to thank Governor Ducey for helping us in our mission to give Arizona’s kids a better future.”
A March 2021 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention compared the activity of kids who learned virtually during the pandemic to kids who received in-person instruction. The study found that more parents whose kids learned virtually reported that their children experienced decreases in physical activity, time spent outside, in-person and virtual time with friends, and worsened mental or emotional health.
Local journalists have written in detail about the impact the pandemic has had on Arizona kids’ social and emotional wellness. One report points to a survey which found that over a third of kids aged 13–17 need emotional support. Another outlines a heightened increase in anxiety among Arizona’s Hispanic kids.