By Amanda Mack, news editor
The Nantucket Boys and Girls Club (NBGC) has been “a positive place for kids” since 1945. From after-school programs, to summer camps, to intramural sports, and more, the Boys & Girls Club has provided a safe, inclusive, and entertaining place for kids to spend their time. With so much focus on the younger students, older students tend to fade out of the Club activities after they reach middle-school age. As students start to gain a little more independence and freedom, they start to branch out to other things. However, the Club still has so much to offer older students. This year, the Club has started creating different programs and initiatives for the older students in order to entertain a wider variety of ages. Boys and Girls Club Director of Operations Fernando Jones expressed that they are looking to “re-engage with the high schoolers and middle schoolers on the island. Many stop coming to the Club after a certain age, but we have many things to offer up.”
One notable initiative the Club has started is an educational development program called Money Matters. This program comes from the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Charles Schwab program. Its intention is to strengthen the financial skills of students as they gain more independence and prepare to one day live on their own. It teaches them valuable skills such as goal-setting, budgeting, and analytical decision-making, which will all assist students in planning for their future, college, important life events, and most importantly, just creating healthy habits surrounding money at an early age. The program is available to students ages thirteen through eighteen. The course includes three units, each unit lasting twelve weeks. If you attend every class in one unit, you receive a $100 gift certificate to put your new money management skills to work. The first unit of this course has already begun and is at full capacity. However, if you are interested, you can contact Jasmine Lee, Director of Communications at the NBGC to be put on a waitlist, and be on the lookout for sign-ups for the next unit. Along with this course, many other courses relating to educational, professional, athletic, and personal development will start to be offered in an effort to assist the middle and high schoolers of Nantucket.
In an effort to create volunteer opportunities for high schoolers, the Club has partnered with ACK Teen to create a mentoring program called Big Little Leaders. Big Little Leaders meet every Saturday from 1-2pm at the Club. The mentors and the mentees play games, draw, talk, and learn about each other. They are able to build a relationship and learn from each other, which is very valuable to both younger and older kids. Sophomore Natalie Mack, who is involved in the program, expressed “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a mentor through this program because I enjoy providing the young kids we meet with someone to look up to and be there for. As I’ve grown up on this island I have had numerous different people that are older than me who I’ve looked up to ask for advice all the time. Having that support has helped me grow into the confident person I am today. And always having someone there to talk to is great. I hope to be that person for these mentees.” Due to the success of this program, the Club hopes to continue to partner with ACK Teen in the future, and create some more programs together.
If you are looking for something a little more laid back to participate in, the Club will also begin hosting themed teen night each Friday starting April 9th. Teen night is a time for high schoolers to come together at the Club, hangout, have some fun, and make new friends. In order to keep the teens engaged, the Club has planned each night with a new activity. Opening night, April 9th, will begin with a paint night from 8-10pm. If this interests you, you must pre-register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. Some other activities for future weeks are trivia night with prizes, beat saver competition with prizes, bingo night with prizes, movie night with popcorn and soda, and a slam dunk contest. With all that is going on in the world around us, the Club is able to provide a welcoming environment for kids of all ages to come, learn, and express themselves. The passion that they continuously put into their programs for kids of all ages is inspiring and greatly appreciated by the Nantucket community.