Boys and Girls Clubs Make an Impact

by Katie Grayson | Jan 24, 2017

The Larson Foundation is passionate about promoting organizations that educate and uplift individuals living in the State of South Dakota.  The Board is particularly fond of programming that serve youth-at-risk.  The Boys and Girls Clubs is one organizations making a huge impact on youth in South Dakota. 

The Boys and Girls Club of Moody County, South Dakota serves to inspire and enable young people to realize their full potential as productive and responsible citizens.  As part of this mission, the Club has developed an extension program through the Flandreau Indian School where young women are being served through the SMART Girls program. 

SMART Girls (Skills, Mastery and Resistance Training) is a national program through the Boys and Girls Club of America for young women ages 8-17.  Over 65 young women at Flandreau Indian School have participated in the program which encourages young women to reach their full potential not only while they are in school, but in life after graduation.  Each of these young women receive guidance toward healthy attitudes, lifestyles, getting good health care and more. 

Shay comes to SMART Girls because she has fun, feels comfortable and believes she can openly share with the group.  “I am stronger than ever.  I am happy and I like to see others do better in group too,” she said.  “Our successes have included individual and group growth, healing from personal trauma and developing a positive support system.”

This year, young women in the SMART Girls program learned the history of two-spirit individuals within the Native American Culture.  “Two-spirited” or “two-spirit” individuals usually indicates a Native person who believes their body simultaneously manifests both a masculine and a feminine spirit or a different balance of masculine and feminine characteristics than usually seen in masculine men and feminine women.  SMART Girls also has used art as a therapy and coping technique. Art has been scientifically proven to help regulate mental health as well as help people dealing with trauma, challenges or illness to cope and grow personally. 

Priscilla Hovland, OVC Administrative Project Coordinator at Flandreau Indian School said, “ SMART Girls has provided participants with a sense of belonging, purpose, increase in self-esteem, establishing positive and healthy relationships and positive coping skills.”