By Kaleb Robertson.
Kaleb is a senior at Green Bay West High School and was recently named a Youth Afterschool Ambassador for 2016-17 by the Afterschool Alliance. He has been attending the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Green Bay afterschool program for more than five years. This letter outlines his experiences in this program and how they have influenced his path and future successes.
I originally came to the Boys and Girls Club because I had friends who attended. While I initially thought it was just a place to hang out, I quickly learned that the Club had a lot more to offer afterschool and in the summer. Caring staff who serve as mentors, leadership development opportunities, and future planning are just a few of the activities I have been able to participate in. None of these things would have been possible for me if not for my afterschool program.
One of the first programs I joined was the Be Great: Graduate program. ‘Be Great’ is a program that matches a teen with a staff member or ‘graduation coach’. My coach, Greg, has made sure that I have kept good grades and stay safe. He’s someone I know I can talk to, even though he is my formal mentor. And there are lots of other Club staff who have helped me along the way. I am comfortable knowing that whenever I come to the Club, there is always someone I can go to for guidance, support, and advice.
The Club also has great leadership opportunities, including the Keystone Club. Keystone is a program that gives teens an opportunity to learn about and practice leadership and community service. Keystone members complete and document service hours, organize fundraisers, and serve as leaders within the Club, even helping to make decisions that impact other kids. I became involved with Keystone since I started coming to Club, and have served as the Keystone President. I even got to attend the National Keystone Conference in 2016!
Besides being a leader, the Club has also helped realize and plan my future. Ms. Tori, the Club’s Graduation Specialist, has helped me stay on track and get my college applications done. Along with helping me plan financially how to stay afloat with my money and pointing me towards many scholarship opportunities, she has also coordinated several campus visits so I have a better idea of what I’m looking for in a college.
For my Youth Ambassador project, I wanted to create something that I could give to people that shared the power and impact my afterschool program has had on me. I will be taking pictures of programs around the Club and turning them into a photo storybook. This way I will not only be able to tell my story to people, but also leave a copy of it behind for them to share with others.
My afterschool experience has been nothing short of transformational. It has helped me stay on track to graduate and also helped me to realize what my future can look like. Every kid should be able to access the same opportunities that I have. Afterschool programs make a difference!