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Making Memories and Building Life Skills through Mentoring

The Boys & Girls Club of Nowata, located in Nowata, OK, is succeeding in opening doors to brighter futures through their mentoring program, made possible by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) Office of Justice Programs (OJP) pass through funding! Treasure Standeford, Club Chief Professional Officer, and her staff have taken the guidelines of mentoring and expanded the program to meet the needs of their Club youth. What started as a basic mentoring program has flourished into dependable mentor to mentee relationships accompanied with hands on activities that promote life-long learning for all.

What lends to their success with mentor to mentee matches? Being proactive to make sure mentors are up to date with the schedule and they are to keep with their matches and what is expected of them in their role. Standeford explained, “If they [mentors] miss a day or time, they know that they need to make it up to their mentee because the activities and time spent together are important”.

Club youth are presented with the opportunity to build a solid relationship with a mentor while taking part in exciting, exploratory activities. Throughout the duration of the program, participants have been able to learn about important life skills, such as cooking and sewing. However, it is more than just cooking a dish for everyone to enjoy or sewing a project to enter in the local fair. Participants are using other skills such as math for measuring ingredients and science to repair donated sewing machines.

Through dependable mentor/mentee matches and multidimensional activities, Club youth are having positive experiences that will last a lifetime! Our hats are off to the Boys & Girls Club of Nowata and their staff for their great work with mentoring.

Photo Credit: Crystal Blagg, Mentoring Coordinator at Boys & Girls Club of Nowata

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New Youth Center Opens Doors for Brighter Futures

For some time, the small, quaint community of Snowbird, part of the Cherokee lands, was isolated to the point it was forgotten at times. However, the community of Snowbird can no longer be overlooked. A brand new, 15,000 square foot facility, entitled the Snowbird Youth Center, was opened by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in mid July to give home to Boys & Girls Clubs of Cherokee Snowbird Unit. The new facility was constructed on nearly 20 acres of land that the tribe is leasing from the U.S. Forest Service nearby for the next 25 years.

“It's an amazing day for the community and the county,” said Wanda Blythe, as reported by Cherokee One Feather. Blythe, the Snowbird Youth Center Manager, continued on to say, “It is a wonderful facility. It is beautiful. I am just so thrilled for these kids to have something they can call their own.”

While it has taken many years to complete the new youth center, it is one that does not go unappreciated or unrecognized. In fact, local officials and community members gathered together for the ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the new beginnings that are made possible through the opening of the youth center. Many community members that gathered for the event reminisced about times past and spoke of the opportunities that are now available for the kids.

Cherokee County - Snowbird Representative Adam Wachacha explained, “… eight years ago, this land we are standing on was just an old Forest Service road… the idea of a Boys & Girls Club was only a dream.”

Congratulations to the Boys & Girls Club of Cherokee and the new Snowbird Youth Center for fulfilling dreams and creating opportunities for the kids within the community!

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Boys are being Transformed to Men with a Passport to Manhood

Boys will be boys, especially in the Passport to Manhood program. Beginning in the fall of 2004, the Boys & Girls Club of the Missouri River Area in Wagner, SD introduced, BGCA’s Passport to Manhood program that enacted several male-focused activities. This year marks the Club’s 10-year anniversary of the Passport to Manhood program and the Boys & Girls Club of the Missouri River Area plans to celebrate by continuing to grow this attraction. Everything from kayaking to archery is explored by male Club members who are fortunate enough to be a part of this unique opportunity. They can even contribute to the sound of music in the drum group portion of the program.

Kayaking and archery are the most recent additions to the program. Jon Corey is the certified instructor for these activities and is also an employee of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks. Passport to Manhood Club members participatin kayaking and archery once a week, March through May. The drum group is also a distinctive component of the Passport to Manhood program. The drum group has performed at several events in the Missouri River area. Tribal functions, athletic events, VIP visits, a Day For Kids, and community gatherings are just a few of the typical places you might see this drum group perform!

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Positive, Empowering Changes for Catawaba Indian Nation and the Boys & Girls Club of York County

Keeping youth, especially teens, involved and committed to education is important. Catawaba Indian Nation has taken a monumental step towards breaking down barriers that hinder teens from reaching their educational and career goals by partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of York County to open the Catawaba Teen Center located in Rock Hill, SC. A new teen center is a big deal for any Club but has been even more so fulfilling for the Catawaba Indian Nation as they were able to open the center a mere six months after receiving an OJJDP Tribal Youth Program grant.

The partnership between the tribe and Boys & Girls Club of York County stands solid with a universal goal in mind, which is to make a difference for the young people in the community. To ensure the needs of the youth were met, the tribe hosted meetings that welcomed the input of not only adults but of the youth as well. The responses received were overwhelmingly positive. The youth will remain to be a large voice in the decisions that are made both daily and long term.

With culture-based programming available at the teen center, participants are now involved with activities such as gardening, cooking, traditional pottery, college visits, and career exploration that allow for meaningful learning in an informal environment. As an example of the steps that are being taken to encourage educational success, a series of guest speakers has been organized to speak with the teens about opportunities pertaining to higher education. Events such as the guest speakers, hands-on activities, and college visits have allowed the teens to broaden their outlook on both educational and career goals. Formal learning experiences are also available through tutoring and homework sessions that are offered at the center.

Congratulations to the Catawaba Indian Nation and Boys & Girls Club of York County with the newfound success of the Catawaba Teen Center!

Photo: Alongside staff, members of the Catawba Teen Center inspect their newly planted garden.
Credit: Don Worthington

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A Colorful Inspiration

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Boys & Girls Club in Atmore, AL saw a need within their community and ran with it; literally! This past month, the Club’s T.R.A.I.L. (Together Raising Awareness for Indian Life) Diabetes Prevention program got their community moving by sponsoring a color run. The event was held as a fundraiser in honor of 15 year old, Denver S. who is a member of the Club’s teen center. Denver has been diagnosed with a type of cancer that affects his nervous system called neuroblastoma. Proceeds of the event were donated to Denver and his family to help with the medical care that is needed.

A grand total of 293 runners participated in the 2-mile run to benefit Denver. Throughout the course, participants were covered in color as they dashed through various check points. This event instilled a positive mindset of being active in those who participated. Instead of relating words such as “exhausting” and “never ending” with running and moving about, participants found that it can be fun and even inspiring! The Club hopes to make the run an annual event with a different charitable cause benefiting from the occasion each time. What a great way to bring awareness to the T.R.A.I.L. program, get active, and help those in the community!

Photo credit: The Poarch Band of Creek Indians (2014).

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BGCA Native Services Unit
Dallas Service Center
2107 N. Collins Boulevard
Richardson, TX 75080

Direct: 972-581-2374
E-mail: BGCANS@BGCA.ORG