This summer we'd like to highlight the important work that each of the Detroit Lions Charities 2021 partners are doing to strengthen our community. First up is a brand-new partner for the Detroit Lions: Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan.
Boys and Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan (BGCSM) empowers youth to become career, start up and homeowner ready by providing safe after-school programming to Detroit youth ages six to 18. It's an all-inclusive approach to set youth in the region up for success later in life.
Recognizing poverty as the root cause of issues facing our youth, Boys and Girls Club – the nationwide umbrella organization in which BGCSM operates – is dedicated to addressing poverty by driving economic mobility for youth, families and the greater community.
Funding from Detroit Lions Charities provides support for the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan's football and cheerleading leagues, which serve youth ages five to 14 years old throughout metro Detroit. The Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan powered the Greater Metropolitan Youth Sports (GMYS) in 2020 to make these leagues possible during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As told by one league participant, "When school closed because of COVID-19 and we were put on lockdown, I didn't think we would have a football season. When my mom told me about Boys and Girls Clubs and GMYS partnering and that we would have a season it was like Christmas. I couldn't wait to get to field to see my teammates and coaches."
This year, BGCSM intends to serve over 4,000 youth through football and cheerleading leagues and more than 15,000 youth through programming at their 11 club locations throughout metro Detroit.
"The Boys & Girls Clubs partnering with GMYS was the best thing ever. It gave me a chance to play football and finish out my little league career with my friends some whom I played with since we were 8 years old," said another participant.
In addition to athletic programming, the Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan offers youth the opportunity to participate in other enrichment activities at the club including programs like Passport 2 Manhood, mental wellness programming and other initiatives aimed at helping Detroit youth succeed in and out of the classroom.
This past February, Lions CB Jeff Okudah and Lions Special Assistant to Chairman and President & CEO Chris Spielman visited with youth from Boys and Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan at the Dick & Sandy Dauch Club in Detroit. Okudah spoke to youth in the Passport 2 Manhood event and taught participants about the importance of being resilient and having a positive outlook on life both on and off the field.
"We're just excited to be here and get a chance to get with the community and help you reach your dreams," said Okudah at the event. "Someone helped me climb my mountain, so I want to help you guys climb yours."