Highlands Cashiers Health Foundation (HCHF) has awarded a grant to Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau to fund a recreational therapist position at their Cashiers facility. The recreational therapist will serve to improve the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of youngsters from Cashiers, Highlands and the surrounding plateau communities through mentorship and activities that encourage healthy habits; reduce depression, stress, anxiety; and build confidence and socialization skills.
“Given our Foundation’s expansion to address our communities’ growing needs for mental health and wellness services we are we pleased to partner with the Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau on this important initiative,” says Robin Tindall, CEO and Executive Director of HCHF. “Their evidenced-based recreational therapy program is an important component to the array of services that support our mission of lifting health and well- being, together.”
The club will be conducting bi-yearly assessments on club members to establish baselines and to help monitor progress. Many children are not comfortable sharing, and it becomes more difficult to recognize where there is a need. By conducting the assessments, it helps with identifying children that need additional support. One of the primary goals of the club is prevention, and this allows the staff to follow their evolution and give them the support that they need before an issue can escalate.
“Behind every behavior action is a need,” says Brandon Norwood, LRT, CTRS, Director of Health and Wellness with Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau. “Finding that need is incredibly important. Too often kids are just written off for too many ‘thumbs down’ as just a bad kid. Maybe that kid is just going through some stuff, so let’s try to figure out what we can do to help.”
In addition to working directly with members of the club, the recreational therapist will be developing a range of new programs. An educational program for parents is currently being developed. The program would focus on supporting parents and encouraging whole family health and wellness. Additionally, a new internship program for recreational therapy students at Western Carolina University is being developed. This new program will allow the club to support more youth while providing one of the few local internships available on the plateau.
“This means so much for our youth,” says Carmen Waite, CEO of Boys and Girls Club of the Plateau. “Having been a volunteer here first, working closely with the kids and now in the CEO position, I definitely see a difference in our kids and the struggles that they face. We really want our kids to reach their maximum potential. To do that, they need to have academic success, but also self-confidence and social/emotional well-being. I really do believe we can make a huge impact in every child’s self-esteem here at the club. It’s exciting to have a program that we know can make that impact.”