Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee celebrated the grand opening of its newest addition, the North Division High School Boys & Girls Club, on Monday, Feb. 22. Local leaders, including prominent alumni United States Representative Gwendolyn Moore, joined Boys & Girls Clubs and Milwaukee Public Schools officials at the event.
“Over the past year, the Lindsay Heights neighborhood, which includes the North Division High School Campus, has been brimming with enthusiasm, thanks in part to residents and the Zilber Neighborhood Initiative,” says Jim Clark , president & CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.
“We’re honored to operate a Boys & Girls Club within North Division High School — an institution known for nurturing Milwaukee leaders such as U.S. Representative Moore and Dr. Howard Fuller. Our hope is that, through our innovative programs for teens, we will add more outstanding leaders to its alumni list.”
Since opening late last year The Club, as it is referred to by its members, continues to see increased interest in its programs and activities. Members include students from the North Division Campus as well as from teens across Milwaukee. The Club welcomes, on average, 85 members daily, Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
When it first opened, Club Manager Tamara Key and her staff asked members what they wanted to do in their Club. The ideas shared led to creative, teen-focused programs that continue to multiply.
“We asked our teens what we need to do to keep young people interested,” says Key. “All of our programs are built around what members told us they wanted to do. Their interests are varied from working in the greenhouse to becoming entrepreneurs. I see some great leaders and very talented individuals emerging.”
According to Key, Club programs fall into three main areas of focus: academic success, civic engagement and health and life skills.
Key describes the format as fun learning and cites the program, “My Lyrics,” as an example. In it, members take popular songs with negative words and change them to positive lyrics that promote community building.
Overall, Key says the biggest attraction to the Club is how it makes teenagers feel. “Our members keep coming back and bringing their friends because they have fun and they feel safe. Not just physically safe but emotionally safe too,” says Key. “They can be themselves and not be judged.”
Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is the oldest and largest youth-serving agency in Milwaukee. Serving more than 33, 000 members, it offers after-school and summer programming for children ages 6-18. Visit Club’s Web site at www.boysgirlsclubs.org.