Making SMART Decisions

Sydney's Story

The start of a new school year brings endless opportunities to engage kids in afterschool programs. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Northwest Indiana seized the opportunity to fine-tune their Start and Stay SMART programs, which teach kids the skills they need to maintain healthy lifestyles. The Club was able to lead enjoyable, educational sessions with the assistance of a Health Grant from United Way of Porter County.

The impact of these sessions was evident right away. One student, Sydney, participated in the SMART program for girls. During an afterschool session, a staff member noticed that Sydney was not acting like herself, and asked to speak with her after the session. The staff member discovered that Sydney was being harassed by a male student at school. Not only was he saying things like, “If you really loved me, you’d come to my house instead of going to the Club,” but he even tried to kiss Sydney and make other inappropriate advances. Despite Sydney’s refusals, the boy continued to make her feel frightened and uncomfortable.

By taking the initiative to speak with Sydney, the Club staff member helped her take action to stop the harassment. Sydney turned to her father, who in turn spoke with the school principal. The boy faced consequences for his actions.

Sydney was able to apply the skills that she learned at the Boys & Girls Club when she needed them most. Now, she is armed with the ability to make smart decisions and keep herself and her friends safe. Sydney’s father was very grateful that his daughter was able to participate in the SMART program and has a safe place to go after school. As a single father, he sometimes finds it challenging to teach and counsel Sydney about issues that pertain to her sexuality and health. Sometimes, all it takes is one SMART decision to maintain safer and healthier environments for kids!

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