By Greg Stowers, Key Club International Director

For nearly 100 years Key Club International has provided members with an experience focused on service, building character and developing leadership. From the club level to the Key Club International board, our service continues to make an impact on communities.

While there are numerous character traits represented by our members, it’s the sense of teamwork fostered by our student leaders and advisors that makes our organization unique. For developing leaders, our goal is to provide an experience steeped in fun but also challenging in a way that helps students grow. Some of these challenges may include conflict resolution, time management and working through generational differences — but all together, they give students the transferrable skills necessary to adapt to any number of situations, especially as they become adults.  

That adaptability has been on display over the past six months. District boards have been adapting to online environments to put on thoughtful programming. And club advisors have reached out, looking for ways to navigate the effects of Covid-19 — reaffirming the importance of adults in developing student leaders. 

For example, I recently sat in on the Pacific Northwest District’s Key Club Day and was thoroughly impressed by the work of their district board and adult team. And I’ve seen the Florida District’s thoughtful approach in their quarantine guide.  

Adaptability is also apparent in the work of the Key Club International Board as they recognize the challenges facing our districts now while focusing on next steps for Key Club as a whole.  

Working through these challenges to find the silver lining is important. Meetings certainly look different this year, as many of our clubs have shifted online. I’m cognizant of the way Covid-19 has changed society, but I’m even more sensitive to its impact on the social and emotional well-being of students. As we’ve been more intentional about mental health and wellness, acknowledging the following statistics is important, while also understanding the isolation and quarantine have an even more adverse impact on our students.  

  • 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14. 
  • 1520% of teens will have a depressive episode before adulthood. 
  • On average, teens spend seven hours on their phones each day.  

Of course, these issues are only compounded when people are isolated. 

In recent conversations with the Key Club International Board I asked, “What are some reasons why clubs should be meeting?” A few of their answers:  

  • Increased education about Key Club. 
  • Building stronger bonds with Kiwanis. 
  • Social interaction/immersion. 
  • The need for new ideas and innovation. 
  • Ability to engage new members. 
  • Consistency. 
  • The need to keep clubs strong. 
  • Mental health. 
  • Fellowship outside of school. 

And finally, there was the need for a sense of belonging.  

Belonging is the feeling that you are valued and essential. And it is given greater emphasis when our members feel a sense of pride and fulfillment in our organization.  

Over the next few months, several resources will be introduced to help members and clubs during these unique times. Whether in-person or online, meetings provide the social engagement needed to not only help Key Club sustain but grow. And as a membership-based organization, dues play a necessary role in programming and in engaging members around the world.  

In the meantime, we look forward to working with you — and emphasizing the sense of belonging that Key Club provides for students around the world.  

In service,  

Greg Stowers 
Key Club International Director