A Summer of Fun (and Learning!)
With activities that included exploring neighborhoods and outdoor spaces, emphasizing the entrepreneurial spirit and displaying artistic talents, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond ensures that young people are actively engaged during the summer months. A summer spent at the Clubs provides opportunities to form positive relationships, to develop life skills and allows youth to see what awaits them.
This summer, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond saw 531 young people come through the doors during the seven-week program. With the Clubs open 10 hours a day, there were many opportunities to actively engage members to help prevent the “summer slide.” As a continuation of our quality programming, young people worked on skill-building, emotion management and civic-mindedness.
Here are some of the highlights from the summer and be sure to visit Instagram (@bgcmetrorva) for more photos from the summer!
Through excursions and intentional programming, teen members had a variety of experiences at their Clubs. Throughout every lesson, the teens were exposed to new opportunities which allowed them to improve social-emotional skills while having fun.
The Northside teens participated in a program with Capital One in which they sought to develop creative solutions to a social issue. Through the Design Project, Capital One ambassadors challenged the teens to identify a financial problem in their community, and plan an event that would respond to those issues. After five weeks of planning, the teens pitched their ideas to Capital One. The top pitch was for a block party created by Netia, Alaya, LaMya, Aaliyah, Kyjohn, Michael, Jaesean and TaDreama. Capital One Café will host the event later this fall.
A group of teens from Southside spent every Thursday with the senior residents of Saint Francis Home. The members and seniors spent quality time together, playing games, doing arts & crafts and having thoughtful conversations.
With a field trip almost every day of the week, the teens were constantly on the go. Over the course of the summer, they explored Richmond and Petersburg as well as cities such as Charlottesville, Norfolk, Washington, D.C.
Teens met weekly at Junior Achievement for the Career Success program, took campus tours of University of Virginia and Randolph Macon University, participated in the Publix Aprons Cooking School, learned how to screenprint at Studio Two Three, went rock climbing at Triangle Rock Club, attended a hip hop dance class, explored their creativity at The Mix at the Science Museum of Virginia, and participated in DPR Construction’s School of Construction, building picnic tables for use in their Clubs. Southside’s Keystone Club even attended the National Keystone Conference in Orlando, Fla., gaining valuable leadership and service experience, which they brought back to the Club.
They Have Skills
Problem-solving, critical thinking skills, responsibility and teamwork were skills that each Club focused on during the summer.
“It is one thing to plan for imparting skills in our youth, but it has been completely amazing to see the skill development actually happening, and hearing members be able to speak about what they are experiencing,” said Petersburg Senior Program Director Brandie Pitt. “It was so amazing to hear from their mouths what skills they’ve learned, and to learn more about their application of those skills.”
The 10 and 11-year-olds at Petersburg summed it up pretty well, check out what they had to say.
Developing a Voice
Helping youth develop their voice is one of the essential parts of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond’s work. When youth feel that they are heard and empowered to use their voice, they gain a sense of agency and self-worth.
The MLK, Jr. Middle School Club offered a program called “Spread Your Sound” which focused on music production. Prodigy Productions collaborated with the youth, giving them the full exposure to the market and music industry. The summer culminated with four members – Jahqae, Anya, Da’marcus, Kyhee – recording and performing an original song. Their song, entitled “We All Go Crazy,” speaks about their childhood dreams and how they are overcoming obstacles.
“They were able to use beats, lyrics and music to express themselves and tell their story.”
“The excitement amongst this group was awesome. They were able to use beats, lyrics and music to express themselves and tell their story,” said Jennifer Ponton, senior program director at MLK. She also saw a positive change in one of the members. Because he felt his voice was being valued and heard, he went from displaying inappropriate and disrespectful behaviors to being self-correcting and taking responsibility for his actions.
Southside offered a podcasting program for the 7-13 age group. Ms. Sally guided the group, but the members took the lead on what they wanted to discuss. The BGC Podcast included staff interviews and popular topics such as music, comedians and movies. They also delved deeper, with a podcast about civil rights activist Ruby Bridges. The program was so successful that the BGC Podcast is being continued in the fall with an upgrade to new equipment.
Making an Impact
The meaningful and positive experiences at Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond help to develop long-lasting relationships with our young people.
Harmoni, the Petersburg Youth of the Year, was unable to attend the summer program due to a summer job and other commitments. Yet, one morning she stopped by the Club to get the details of Petersburg’s Summer Jam so she could attend.
Harmoni coming back to visit, and having the desire to attend the end-of-the-year celebration, speaks to the way she has been engaged during her time at the Club. It shows that even in her absence, she still feels a connection to the Petersburg Club. Her success outside of the Club highlights the skills that her Club experiences have helped her to develop, as she is now employed and able to use her strong life skills.