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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Impacting community youth

Post-baccalaureate+nursing+student+Madison+Johnson+plays+Apples+to+Apples+with+Paris+a+girl+benefiting+from+the+Boys+and+Girls+club+in+Brazos+Valley.%26%23160%3B
Photo by FILE

Post-baccalaureate nursing student Madison Johnson plays Apples to Apples with Paris a girl benefiting from the Boys and Girls club in Brazos Valley.

 

Located just minutes away from Downtown Bryan, the Boys and Girls Club of Brazos Valley (BGCBV) has established a safe space for kids to learn leadership skills, develop learning methods and make lasting friendships in the process.
Tiffany Parker, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys and Girls Club of Brazos Valley, has been working for the BGCBV for 15 years and said the purpose of the BGCBV is to build the children up in multiple ways.
“The Boys and Girls Club is a youth development organization serving ages 6 to 18 and we’ve been in this community since 1959,” Parker said. “Our primary goal is keeping kids safe and building up strong citizens. All of our programs are divided into five core program areas, and those are character and leadership development, education and career development, health and life skills, the arts and sports and fitness and recreation.”
Parker said the average day for a BGCBV kid varies depending on what the kids are interested in, but during the school year many programs and activities are led by one of the 1,600 volunteers the club averages per year and focus on building scholastic habits.
“During the school year when they hit the door they sign in and then they go to the learning center if they have homework,” Parker said. “If they don’t have homework then we have different high-yield learning activities set up throughout the building. So they’ll get with their grade level and do maybe basketball relays with flashcards so they’re still getting some learning in but it’s not too school-y. They’ve been in school all day so we don’t want to be a continuation of the school day, but we do want them to develop study habits and get used to doing something scholastic every day after school.”
Bethany Bigham, kinesiology junior and a volunteer at BGCBV, started serving two years ago with her freshman leadership organization and said the most rewarding part is being able to see the happiness on the kids’ faces when they see her.
“[The Boys and Girls club] gives the kids opportunities that they wouldn’t have otherwise,” Bigham said. “When the kids do recognize you the happiness on their faces and the smiles they give you is really cool, it’s something that they look forward to and so do I.”
Post-baccalaureate nursing student Madison Johnson has been volunteering for the BGCBV for over three years and is now a mentor to 10-year-old club member Paris.
“I think she was in first grade when I met her and so I’ve been able to help her with homework and I come every week, so she is able to count on me being here and count on someone to come here and play with her,” Johnson said. “I think it makes them feel more important that someone is coming there every week for them.”
Paris has been coming to the BGCBV for around five years and said enjoys seeing her mentor and playing outside.
“She’s fun, she lets me do a lot of stuff,” Paris said. “It’s just us and we get to get on computers and play board games … and we get to play kickball and we get to play on the playground too.”
Johnson said this experience has allowed her to interact with Paris and be a mentor inside and outside of the BGCBV.
“I think just having Paris always be so excited to see me every week is probably the best thing,” Johnson said. “Her grandparents and parents know me at this point so that is really cool that the whole family knows me as her mentor and I’ve gone to her school plays so it goes beyond just here.”
Johnson said the BGCBV is a great place to mentor kids who value having young adult role models in their lives.

“Paris asks me questions about college often, so it’s nice to be able to interact with her like that and having someone who is in college and having those goals to aspire to,” Johnson said.
Micayla, age 12, has been coming to the BGCBV since she was in kindergarten and met one of her best friends through the club. Micayla said her favorite activities are the ones centered around education and career development and that she enjoys learning about entrepreneurial skills.
“They’re a great group of people and they teach us about domestic product use and business and how to own a business, so they teach us how to be little entrepreneurs,” Micayla said. “I want to be an entrepreneur business person or an artist.”
Parker said the most rewarding aspect of being involved in the BGCBV is being able to watch the kids grow through the program.
“I think for me it’s just seeing the change that can happen in a child — and not just a child but the whole household,” Parker said. “Some of the kids will come in and they don’t have the best self image or their self esteem may not be where we would like to see it … and so we’re able to turn those around and help them identify their strengths … but seeing them come back after they’ve graduated from college and they’ve gotten married or purchased homes, that’s been awesome.”
Editor’s note: To preserve privacy, the last names of the children interviewed have been left out.
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