Boys & Girls Club Blog

Program Highlight: Social & Emotional Wellness & Behavior Intervention

February 1, 2023

The Boys & Girls Club of Oshkosh continues to expand on programs that support members’ social-emotional and mental health needs and create positive behavior patterns. 100% of Club members participate in weekly programming that is age-specific and developmentally appropriate. Our Director of Social & Emotional Wellness, Caitlyn Cheslock, introduces Social & Emotional Learning (SEL) programs to members and staff that focus on mental wellness, mindfulness, appropriate relationships and responsibility for actions. Youth that need further support in an area may participate in focused small groups. For example, a small group of 9 to 11-year-old girls recently participated in the SMART Girls program, which aims to improve conflict resolution skills. Through discussions and activities, they focused on self-esteem enhancement, wellness, and building skills for developing positive relationships with peers and adults. Passport to Manhood, a similar program for Club boys, provides peer mediation and coaching to help members who may be struggling to create positive connections with one another.

The Club has created calm-down spaces, including a Zen Den and “safe spaces” in each program area. These spaces allow members to have quiet time away from others to de-escalate. They may use calming toys, fill out a mental wellness worksheet or simply take a break from others. Our Director of Social & Emotional Wellness also works with members individually to develop skills and offers a drop-in space for members who need a safe place to talk. The Club can refer members who need additional resources, such as to therapy or crisis services if there is a larger or more immediate mental health concern.

In addition, our Behavior Intervention Specialist, Victor Brandt, works directly with members on handling behaviors and leads Club-wide behavior management strategies. He adds additional support by creating individual behavior plans for members who may struggle to express their emotions. Recently, program staff trained on Conscious Discipline (used within the Oshkosh Area School District), which includes classroom management, ways to support members experiencing hard emotions, and constructive ways to de-escalate children during outbursts and conflict situations. Using Conscious Discipline adds a level of consistency and familiarity for members because they use it in school. Throughout the Club, members will also see posters with helpful tips and reminders.

Through these programs, the Club is already seeing children and teens with improved behaviors and using healthier ways to express their emotions. For example, Jason worked with Club staff over the fall to develop healthy coping strategies and communication skills when facing conflicts with friends. Jason was struggling to voice his emotions and would often times communicate in ways that created conflict. Through individual meetings, he learned ways to communicate effectively and voice his feelings when he felt upset instead of communicating in a passive-aggressive way. Now Jason feels confident that he can handle situations with friends on his own and feels empowered to communicate in a healthier way.

These programs are funded in part by a grant from the Green Bay Packer Foundation and United Way.


SMART Girls celebrate the completion of the seven-week program with a pizza party.

Zen Den and “safe spaces” create a tranquil calming environment for members to take a break or deal with strong emotions.

Conscious Discipline posters posted around the Club