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Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County has Fun with the National Fitness Competition

The National Fitness Competition is a BGCA program sponsored by Nestlé. Twice per school year – once in the fall and again in the spring – participating Clubs hold local Fitness Competitions designed to engage and inspire members of all ages, genders, interests and abilities. These one-day events incorporate a variety of fun, "field day"-style activities. Club members have opportunities to "compete against themselves" by tracking their accomplishments and striving for improvement – helping them build intrinsic motivation, confidence, and physical competence.

The Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County held their own local Fitness Competition on May 7th. They had 11 participants this time, and are hoping to continually increase attendance with each event. Some of the stations the youth participated in were a Shuttle Run, Hula Hoop Challenge, 50-yard Dash, Bulls-Eye (throwing a ball through a hoop from a distance of 25 feet), an Obstacle Course, and a Tug-of-War competition. The Club advertised their T.R.A.I.L. program at this event, and had participating youth prepare a healthy lunch for all participants and families.

All youth that participated in the event got a T-shirt, dog tag necklace, certificate, and the top performers for each age group in each category received a medal. Trophies were also handed out for the three team events. Some of the parents even got involved, and everyone had a great time!

Eight out of the eleven participants are current mentees in the Club’s OJP Mentoring program. The Fitness Competition was designed as a family-centered event, and they were glad to see that most parents stayed to watch their children compete. Parents, as well as former and current mentors, also ran stations at the event. Two parents had so much fun watching their children participate that they even joined in for some "Adults v. Youth" team events!

Ottawa County is planning to host a "preview" Fitness Challenge this summer to get their youth excited about the next official fitness event this fall.

Story written by Maria Olson, AmeriCorps VISTA at Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County

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Young Filmmakers Speak Up in Hawaii

Recently, Boys & Girls Club of Hawaii - Nanakuli Clubhouse’s Young Filmmakers Program has attracted attention throughout the state of Hawaii. The program provides youth ages 8-12 with experience handling video equipment, creating storyboards, researching community issues, and producing videos. The program aims to increase participants’ academic success through several key components of the weekly session that include writing, research, and hands-on learning with technology.

The Club has partnered with Nanaikapono Elementary School, located right next door to the Clubhouse, for the past two years to compete in the statewide ‘Ōlelo Youth Exchange (YXC) video competition. ‘Ōlelo (which in Hawaiian means “to speak”) empowers student voice by airing every student entry on cable television and over the internet. The competition promotes student voices and perspectives around learning, health, the environment, and much more. All entries must focus on an issue that affects the immediate community, Hawaii, or the world. This year the entry from the Nanakuli Clubhouse addressed “The Effects of Cigarettes”. Over 900 videos from across the island were submitted to this year’s competition and the Club’s entry, created by 6th graders Leimomi N., Kekai S. and Lucas C., was chosen as a finalist!

Through the creative and powerful medium of video, the Club members gained self-confidence, were part of something bigger than themselves, and learned the value and importance of speaking out on issues that concern youth. Club staff member, Solomon Alfapada shared, "The greatest impact of the Young Filmmakers Program on our youth is that they can harness their creativity. Youth can take their thoughts and bring it into existence through digital media."

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Boys & Girls Club of York County Celebrates Youth of the Year Winner

The Catawba Teen Center, one of five units of Boys & Girls Club of York County in South Carolina, is celebrating its first Youth of the Year honoree, 11th grader Sarah Tucker! The Youth of the Year program honors exceptional Club members who personify the values and character of their Club. Sarah is proud to be the first South Carolina Native Club member to receive this top Boys & Girls Club honor.

In her application essay, Sarah wrote eloquently about how the Club has changed her life, particularly through the adult role models and mentors she spends time with there. Sarah described herself as shy and unmotivated prior to joining the Club. Since becoming a member, she has gained social skills and confidence, and improved her academic performance with the help of onsite tutors. Sarah’s favorite Club memory is traveling with her Club and Catawba Chief Bill Harris to meet President Obama. Spending time with Chief Harris (a long-time mentor at the Club) and participating in Club activities, such as kayaking, has allowed her to grow even closer to her culture and deepen her appreciation of her heritage. “Sarah is a wonderful example to the other youth at the Club and throughout the community,” says Chief Harris.

Sarah is an excellent example of how mentees can grow to become strong community members. In addition to volunteering at local food pantries, she is a role model to younger youth in her school orchestra. Sarah’s orchestra director, Jeremy Shaw, shares that she is “quick to help others when needed, and can often be found assisting them with homework or practice during lunch or after school in the orchestra room.” Congratulations to Sarah and the Boys & Girls Club of York County- Catawba Youth Center for this well-deserved honor!

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Lehi Hoop Dancers Compete in World Championship

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale was proud to see ten of its Lehi Hoop Dance participants compete this February in the 26th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Competition, hosted by the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The event brought dancers and spectators together from all over the U.S. and Canada to highlight unique dance styles and skills. Judges evaluated the nearly 70 performances this year based on five criteria, including precision, timing/rhythm, showmanship, creativity and speed. Both female and male competitors performed in four age divisions: “tiny tots”, youth, adults, and seniors.

The Hoop Dance is practiced by tribes around North America as a form of visual storytelling. Traditionally made of wood or reed, many modern dancers also use plastic and decorate hoops with tape or paint to make their performance stand out. Many dancers portray the seasons, sacred colors and other symbolic designs on their hoops, honoring their communities and heritage. The competition featured a wide array of dancers performing their best routines. “I liked watching other hoop dancers from around the country. I have never seen so many before,” said Club member Deian, one of the Lehi performers. Another Lehi performer, D’Andre, likes the family connection he feels when hoop dancing. “It gives me a challenge [and] it’s a family thing,” he said about the hoop dance.

The Lehi Hoop Dance group was started in January 2015 and provides space for 20 youth and teens to express their creative talent through dance. Coaches Kevin Duncan and Josh Billison lead classes for Club members at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale - Lehi Branch in Mesa, Arizona. “I like learning from Kevin. He is so patient,” said Deian about his dance coach. “I like when our families got to see all our hard work,” said Lehi hood dancer, Yenbaah, who appreciated the support from his community and friends during the competition. By providing a safe and fun learning environment, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale supports programs like the Lehi Hoop Dancers to celebrate participants’ culture and challenge them to accomplish their goals.

To see a video of the 26th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Competition, click here.

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“Ottawa County Has A Heart” Benefit Concert Raises $11,000

The Boys & Girls Club of Ottawa County hosted their first annual benefit concert early this spring with VISTA member Gary Jones as an organizer. “Ottawa County Has a Heart” took place at the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK, a historic tourist destination and center for arts and educational opportunities in the area.

Jones took the lead in planning the concert in the fall of 2015, forming a committee that met regularly to discuss details and recruit community sponsors for the event. Gary worked to recruit 36 sponsors total, with 32 being new partners for the Club.

The concert featured three local musical acts, a local elementary school principal performing a magic show, and Gary himself performing a ventriloquism act.

“All of the performers did a great job,” Gary said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people.” The event was very family-friendly, and many families and community members came out to support the Club and see their favorite musicians perform.

The event also included a presentation designed to show what goes on at the Club and its impact in the community.

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E-mail: BGCANS@BGCA.ORG