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“It’s a-me, Mario!” Iconic Game Celebrated in Alaska

Spring Break has passed, but the memories that have been created are worth a thousand words. It’s the time of year when Boys & Girls Clubs and Club staff get busier as youth are out of school and coming to the Club for longer hours! In March, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southcentral Alaska celebrated National Mario Day, a holiday dedicated to the popular Nintendo game and beloved characters, Super Mario and his brother, Luigi! This day of nostalgia occurs on March 10 due to the way the date appears when abbreviated (Mar10).

Club youth celebrated by having special gym activities to get moving! They worked to create life sized Mario karts, and then subsequently raced them in a Club-wide Mario Kart Tournament. Club staff created cardboard turtle shells to toss out onto the gym “race-track” as youth raced one another, staying true to the Mario Kart videogame! A character contest was later hosted in addition to the races. Youth were encouraged to dress as their favorite Nintendo character, but most chose to dress as one of the famous Mario Bros, with their signature overalls and caps! Participants also had the opportunity to make their very own personal pizzas and host a Mario party for the remainder of the day. Needless to say, National Mario Day was loaded with fun, creativity, and competition.

Mama mia, we can’t wait to see what Alaska Clubs have planned for next year!

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Celebrating Native Alaskan Culture

Culture plays a key role in youth programming at Native Alaskan Boys & Girls Clubs. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that activities that honor traditions take place at each Unit on a monthly basis. The various activities Clubs engage in are unique to each community. The Boys & Girls Club of Tyonek, for example, maintains Junior and Senior Native Youth Olympics teams, as well as a drumming group. In the Boys & Girls Clubs of Kotzebue, youth participate in Environmental Club. Every year they have participated in subsistence fishing, berry gathering, stinkweed salve-making, and traditional drum-making. The Boys & Girls Club of Metlakatla takes a yearly Club-wide camping trip where youth collect and preserve Native foods like sea asparagus and local fish. Metlakatla’s cultural programming also benefits from a strong relationship with the local school, which employs a Sm’algyax language teacher. She volunteers at the Club once per week, teaching members to read, write, and speak the language.

Dancing is also a significant part of many Native Alaskan cultures. In the Boys & Girls Club of Klawock, Club members have learned and participated in traditional local dances for many years. Recently, youth and staff members dressed for a dance at the local Whale House for their grand re-opening.

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Penobscot Boys & Girls Club - Presque Isle Trip to Blue Hill Farm

Inspired by the On the T.R.A.I.L. Diabetes Prevention Program, youth at the Penobscot Boys & Girls Club in Presque Isle, Maine, recently took an exciting trip to the Blue Hill Peninsula to learn local stories of the surrounding area. It has a long history of family farming and fishing, and has recently received national media attention for promoting and supporting local farms and food enterprises. Thanks to the work of these “local heroes”, delicious, high-quality food is produced year-round. This was a fantastic opportunity to get youth interested in eating locally produced and organic food. In the spring, Club staff will be working on a large community garden project together with their youth, growing their own food to share with elders in the community as well as the Club's food program. According to Program Coordinator Ashley Rekem, “I thought that a trip like this was a good precursor to whet their appetites for high quality produce and farm products.”

Youth in the program visited the Winter Farmer’s Market in Blue Hill, which was held inside a glass greenhouse. They also visited and toured the world renowned Four Season Farm on beautiful Cape Rosier, owned by Eliot Coleman and Barbara Damrosch. Together with Eliot's daughter Melissa and her two children, the family produces year-round using a variety of tools and techniques developed by Eliot over his 40+ years of experience. Youth learned the process for how they produce their delicious vegetables, fruit, herbs, flowers, and eggs.

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Carter County Youth Take Tornados into Their Own Hands

The Boys & Girls Club of Carter County runs a program that introduces a science lesson to the youth once a week. One of the recent lessons was on tornados and the science behind them. Located in Oklahoma, these youth are well acquainted with tornados and the protocols that come with them. In fact, the Club is only one hour from Moore, Oklahoma where a tornado touched down in 2013, leaving heavy destruction in the town. Therefore, the facts the youth learned about these storms could be very practical, since they are faced with the threat of them regularly.

Along with the lesson and presenting the youth with information about the weather patterns that are necessary for a tornado to form, the program used games and activities to engage the youth. This lesson was accompanied by a game of jeopardy with the periodic table, because it taught the youth the “elements” that cause tornados. The youth were split into groups and chose categories to answer, and discussed each question as a team.

Finally, the youth were given materials to replicate a tornado in their own hands! Youth were provided with a plastic water bottle, water, and baking soda and were told to swirl that bottle in a circle in order to create a funnel within their bottles. All of the youth enjoyed the activity and got to bring their projects home with them to show their family members.

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Poarch Band Hosts 2017 National Native American Mentoring Banquet

To honor mentors for National Mentoring Month in January, the Boys & Girls Club of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians in Atmore, Alabama hosted a Mentor Banquet at the Wind Creek Casino. The National Native American Mentoring Program is a site-based program that takes place at the Club on a weekly basis for a minimum of one hour, allowing mentor/mentee matches to participate in fun, engaging activities throughout the course of a year. Mentors that sign up consist of Club staff, Tribal staff, and members of the community. Several staff at the Club mentor through their well-known archery program, and others mentor through activities such as sports, music, games, and arts and crafts. These activities are often preformed in addition to regular conversations and check-ins with their mentees.

During the 2016 year, the Club had a total of 15 mentors serve, with two additional individuals who signed up after the first of the New Year. Though their numbers are constantly increasing, they also had 40 active mentees in 2016; an amazing number to say the least! Community/Mentor Coordinator Donna Koehrsen gave a speech about their mentor program, and then called up each mentor to present them with certificates of recognition for their dedication to the program. Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stephanie Agerton, who has been a part of the program since the Club first opened in 2011, was also recognized for her five years of dedication. Equipped with such a devoted, enthusiastic team, it’s no wonder they choose to honor and demonstrate their appreciation every year!

For more information, or to learn more about their program, be sure to check out the Poarch Creek March 2017 Newsletter!

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

Direct: 972-581-2375
E-mail: BGCANS@BGCA.ORG