Teens Serve as Role Models for Younger Club Members
For Club members Anthony, AuPrince, and Deaniya, the time they spend at the Club has taken on a new meaning now that they are teenagers. The Club continues to be the place they come to finish their homework and hang out with friends, but they’ve also found themselves with newfound privileges and responsibilities as role models for younger members.
“I call them my ambassadors,” explained Club Manager Safire Windley. “They set an example for their peers about what it means to be a Boys & Girls Club member and help create the culture that defines our Club.”
At 13 and 14 years old, the teens are a bit older than their fellow members who occupy the Club in the immediate after-school time hours and eligible to attend teen programming, which typically takes place in the evening hours. Still, they’ve been invited by Windley to continue attending between 3pm and 6pm in exchange for their assistance as junior staff members. Alongside full-time staff, the teens help hand out snacks, deliver programming, and relay instructions about activities.
When asked why he still values coming to the Club after-school, AuPrince said, “It’s a very safe zone. You can trust anybody. The staff members are great here [and] it’s a fun place. You don’t have to worry about anybody fighting, bullying, being disrespectful towards you, [or] talking behind your back.”
Empowering youth leaders, like Anthony, AuPrince and Deaniya, with a combination of opportunities and expectations is a key element of positive youth development practiced here at Boys & Girls Clubs and helps ensure that members achieve our priority outcomes of Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles.
Professionals like Windley understand how to facilitate positive peer-to-peer relationships to support a sense of belonging. In addition to developing their own personal identities, the teens are exploring a career in youth services and preparing for future roles as professionals by developing their interpersonal skills, work ethic and sense of community responsibility.