The American Counseling Association brought a discussion of trauma and disaster mental health to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia, as part of its ongoing partnership with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The Aug. 18 visit was planned as an opportunity for ACA to offer a professional development session for Boys & Girls Club staffers who work with youngsters participating in club activities.
Before launching a discussion of best practices, ACA President Gerard Lawson and ACA CEO Richard Yep toured the Boys & Girls Club facilities on Cherry Street in Charlottesville. The site, the largest of the six clubs in the Central Virginia region, opened in 2010 and features the organization’s first Teen Center.
Additional attendees at the session included Jim Clark, President and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA); James Pierce, CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Virginia; Jennifer Bateman, BCGA National Vice President, Health Wellness & Gender; and Crystal E. Brown, BCGA Senior Director, Gender & Well-Being.
Blake Leeper—a U.S. Paralympic athlete, eight-time Paralympic track and field international medalist, and three-time American record holder—talked to the group about the importance of the Boys & Girls Clubs. Leeper credited the clubs’ caring adults and atmosphere of inclusion with making a big difference in his life.
The session at the club in Charlottesville, Va., which was planned months in advance, was able to provide some timely support. The ACA briefing took place less than a week after a march in the city by several white supremacist groups led to a cascade of devastation throughout the town. A young woman was killed and more than 20 people were injured when a vehicle was driven by an alleged white supremacist into a crowd of people. In addition, two police officers were killed when their helicopter crashed while they were keeping an eye on the marchers from the air. Many additional injuries occurred, as supporters of white supremacy were reported to have assaulted and harassed individuals throughout the city.