| Penobscot Boys & Girls Club
Indian Island, Maine
Just off the coast of Maine lies Indian Island, home to the
Penobscot Nation. Since 2000, the island has also been home
to the first Native American Boys & Girls Club in the Northeast
region of the United States.
"Boys & Girls Club work is all about
identifying the needs of youth," says Ken Walsh, who
oversees the Penobscot Nation Boys & Girls Club. "Our
mission is second to none and, through our professional staff,
we can make a big difference in young lives."
In 1999, Walsh and others took the first
steps toward establishing a Club to serve children of the
Penobscot Nation. They started by renovating an old gym whose
concrete floor had seen better days. The brand new wooden
floors they installed were the first ever on the island.
With support from several sources, including
Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the Penobscot Club is now
a state-of-the-art facility.
Every young person on the reservation - about
200 - is a Club member. When young relatives come to visit,
they are immediately introduced to the Club. It has truly
become the center of activity for youth on the island.
The Club provides traditional Boys &
Girls Clubs of America programming such as drug and alcohol
prevention, and tutoring. To ensure that programming is as
effective as possible, Club staff incorporate culturally-specific
aspects. For instance, athletic programs feature one of the
most popular activities on the island: canoeing. Other specialized
programming includes Native American dance fundamentals and
Walsh, who has formed a tight bond with Penobscot
Nation Chief Barry Dana, believes that Boys & Girls Clubs
are successful in Native American communities because they
work closely with tribal leaders and members.
"Boys & Girls Clubs of America
respects Native Americans' rich history and heritage,"
he said. "To know more about that history is going to
make us all better."
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Three Affiliated Tribes
Fort Berthold, North Dakota
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Macav Mohave Valley, Arizona