Among 4,200 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, the Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield was selected to receive the National Merit Award for Program Excellence in the core area of \u201cThe Arts\u201d at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America\u2019s 111th National Conference held May 10-12 in Dallas, Texas. The Ridgefield Club received The Arts Merit Award for their performing arts programs, particularly Jammin' with Jess and Coffee House, as well as a $2,500 grant from MetLife Foundation. MetLife foundation is the sponsor of the annual recognition program rewarding local clubs for innovative, effective youth programing. Jammin\u2019 with Jess and Coffee House are Performing Arts and Music Programs for Club members of all ages. \u00a0The programs provide an opportunity for Club members to express themselves, explore their talents and overcome their fears. Club members also perform songs, dance routines, plays and magic acts. All of this takes place in a comfortable, accepting, and positive atmosphere. \u201cEvery week during the programs, new and returning members shine their light and demonstrate their hidden talents in a nonjudgmental, supportive environment. The motto of both programs is: Express Yourself, Be Yourself, Be GREAT, and the members do just that. So many kids and teens have recognized their passion for music and are still discovering it,\u201d explained Jess Podrazky, Program Director at the Club. The Honor and Merit Awards for Program Excellence are Boys & Girls Clubs of America's (BGCA) most coveted and prestigious program awards. This program recognizes local Clubs from throughout the Movement for their achievements in outstanding local program development. Award-winning programs are fun, demonstrate imagination and are linked to observable youth development outcomes. The Merit Award for The Arts was one of three National Program Excellence Awards the Ridgefield Club has received in the past three years. In previous years, the Ridgefield Club was the recipient of the National Honor Award for Best Overall Program in 2015 and of the National Merit Award for Character and Leadership Development in 2016. \u201cWe are so honored and proud to be recognized by BGCA. Our Club continues to grow and improve year after year, and we have been able to impact more young lives as a result. We are fortunate to have one of the most talented youth development staff in the country, and it is our donors and supporters who allow us to employ the best of the best. This award really goes to the people of Ridgefield. Their belief and support is what allows us to thrive,\u201d stated Mike Flynn, Executive Director at the Ridgefield Club. The Boys & Girls Club of Ridgefield\u2019s mission is to inspire and enable all youth to reach their full potentials productive, responsible and caring citizens,\u201d said Flynn. The Club builds programing around priority outcome areas: academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and leadership, providing program opportunities for 2,200 members and more than 3,500 young people each year.