Local Organization Empowers Youth
As a recent transplant, I’ve been blown away observing the tremendous amount of support devoted to young people in the greater Seattle area. The Boys & Girls Clubs of King County is the third largest major metro organization in the United States. Founded in 1943, it has served more than 26,000 youth in 2017. Kids and teens are provided with opportunities to grow within the realms of academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.
The organization offers hundreds of programs to ensure youth are empowered in and outside of the classroom. Three of these dynamic programs were highlighted in the following conversation with the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County.
Summer Brain Gain
When was this program initially launched in King County?
Summer Brain Gain launched in King County in 2015.
Do you have a favorite success story from this program?
When Summer Brain Gain initially launched, our staff noticed that many kids unfavorably viewed the program as “summer school.” In order to address this misperception, we began incorporating games into each learning activity, thereby making each activity interesting, challenging and fun. For example, in the egg drop project, kids learn about math, physics and engineering by building devices that will prevent eggs from breaking when dropped from a ladder. In order to receive supplies to build their devices, they must complete fun, engaging tasks. Each year, each kid is excited and focused, and all are ultimately able to prevent the eggs from breaking. The club staff credits Summer Brain Gain with providing the resources and materials needed to create a fun, exciting educational environment.
Are the modules specific to the needs of King County or consistent with programs across America?
While it is a national program, the King County Summer Brain Gain curriculum is specifically tailored to address the needs of kids in the Boys & Girls Clubs of King County. Each summer we revise the curriculum after reviewing club attendance rates, youth performance metrics and the skills of the youth development professionals in the King County clubs.
What are some internships or partnerships being offered this year through YouthForce?
This summer, Alaska Airlines has partnered with YouthForce to offer internships to teens. Interns were selected after applying to the program and successfully completing three rounds of interviews, including a final round with the airline’s managers. Positions include flight operations interns, employee customer interns, inflight training interns, horizon air interns, and ITS Comms and events specialists. Intern responsibilities range from assisting with flight operations projects to writing user stories, researching guest pain points and designing in-flight training programs.
What noticeable impact has Keystone made on King County youth?
Keystone is our teen leadership and service program in which youth come together to build skills, and plan and run service projects in their communities. The impact of this program is measured by its ability to connect youth to the community and to promote volunteerism throughout teens’ lives. Keystone members work to address social justice issues by volunteering, designing solutions and getting other teens involved. In addition, each year members of several clubs come together to collect food, clothing, and other resources and distribute these to organizations that serve the homeless.
How can adults best support Keystone?
Keystone would not be successful without the mentorship and financial support we receive from our volunteers and donors.