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Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver wins award for mental health programming

The award recognized the local Club among others across the nation for its trauma-informed practices.

DENVER — Kids who attend Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver are getting a head start on learning about their mental health.

Recently, the organization's mental health team won a national award recognizing their programming among other Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation.

"People have a hard time maintaining their mental health," said 13-year-old Zaden Miera. 

Zaden and his 10-year-old sister Zoeey Miera attend Boys & Girls Club after school. While they are there, sometimes they also learn life skills on how to care for their mental health.

"Ms. Liz, whenever I have group with her, she says with your emotions, that if you ever need to get them out, that you could take deep breaths," said Zooey.

"The way we approach social-emotional learning is how we build peer relationships, is how we build self-awareness," said Liz Barreca, mental health specialist and social worker with Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver.

Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver said their mental health programming incorporates trauma-informed practices values by providing a physically and emotionally safe space for kids to come as they are.  

Barreca said whether a child's being bullied, has suicidal thoughts, or experiencing anxiety, they are there to support them, while giving them resources or tools to cope. 

"They teach her how to deal with her emotions," said Donya Miera, Zaden and Zoeey's mother.

Donya said she loves knowing her kids are safe and having fun while at Boys & Girls Club.

"She's able to just like communicate what she needs, what's wrong or how she's feeling," she said. 

But, she also loves seeing them grow.

"I just want them to grow up and be successful no matter what they choose to do," she said. 

Her son Zaden loves to play sports, but when his team isn't winning, he focuses on what's next and looks forward. 

"Because you've got to stay positive instead of being negative," said Zoeey. "You have to have a growth mindset."

Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver serves 23,000 kids across 20 locations. Many of the students who attend come from underserved, under-resourced communities. The mental health team at Boys &Girls Club provides kids who need it with crisis support, and creating connections to community resources.


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