Meet Tair, Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year. Honored as the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year, Tair recently competed in the State Youth of the Year competition. Part of the qualifying round required Tair to write and deliver a speech, submit to an interview in front of the judges and write 3 essays. Below is Tair’s essay about his Club Experience and the transformative impact his Club, mentor and particularly the Keystone Club has had on his life.
“Statistics show that black teens are 10 times more likely to die from gun violence than white teens. Whether the cause is homicide, law enforcement, or accidental, they are still dying. Unfortunately, I witnessed this epidemic way too close to home. My older brother fell victim to this statistic. Although life hit me hard, I refused to fall victim to being another statistic. Then, there was the Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club. This Club changed my life. They helped me realize my true potential.
As a young man, I have often felt like a slave to statistics and used to think that I was destined for an early death. Growing up, my Mom had a limited presence in my life. I knew my dad but he was always busy with work, so we didn’t communicate much. One day I ended up moving in with my dad because he knew I did not have proper guidance from my mom. While living with my dad, I was grateful that he tried to steer me in the right direction. I remember his words of wisdom and the lectures he gave me. A couple of months later, my mom returned and said she was moving and requested that I come with her. I realized that was a bad decision because I ended up in the custody of child services. It was at this point in my life that I hated every single living moment, especially living in foster care. Eventually, my grandmother ended up getting in contact with child services and I moved in with her.
One day my neighbor invited me to attend open gym at the Boys & Girls Club. I was skeptical at first. However, I ended up going anyway. When I walked into Greater Milford Boys & Girls Club for the first time, it was truly breathtaking. I saw kids from my school and other schools. Before I started going to the Club, I didn’t have that many friends because I was new to the area and didn’t feel comfortable expressing myself to others due to my past experiences. Honestly, I didn’t even know how to express such feelings. But one staff member, Ms. Marla approached me and told me to just breathe. She told me that it would be better for me to talk and express my feelings. Working with Marla helped me gain more confidence in myself and enabled me to build a better relationship with peers and my grandmother. Ms. Marla helped me to develop a “you can do anything you put your mind to” mindset.
The Club also challenged me to face a problem I didn’t even know I had. Like my temper. Although I have never been an aggressive person, if someone pressed my limit, I reacted. For example, one time I got into a physical altercation with another individual at the Club and got suspended from our Teen Titans on Friday nights. Soon after, I realized that losing my temper was completely not worth the outcome and I needed to change. When my suspension ended, I came back to an environment filled with warm faces and smiles. I was able to have a conversation with the staff members regarding the choices I made. I was very apologetic and vowed to change my behavior. At this point, I was truly proud of myself because this was completely a personal decision. This occurrence was a turning point that helped me to turn a new leaf and become a more mature and accountable individual.
I became a leader in the Boys & Girls Club by becoming a member of the Keystone Club. In Keystone Club, we focus on community service, career preparation and academic success. We also help run Teen Titans on Friday nights by working the concession, security, front desk, and games. Another key aspect that makes me a leader in the Club is having the opportunity to go to homeless shelters and spend time with the residents. One of the Keystone activities took place on my birthday, and I was happy to be a gift to others on a day that you are expected to receive gifts.
Overall, my Club experience has been phenomenal. It has impacted my life for the better and to this day, continues to push me forward and motivates me to succeed. Life has definitely dealt me cards that I did not deserve. Due to that, I am a survivor of the obstacles I have overcome, and a leader by choice. I am proud to say that I have finally realized that I can be more than just a statistic.”
Clearly the impact Tair’s Club has had on him is real. When members like Tair have high-quality Club Experiences and attend regularly, they are more likely to achieve positive outcomes. Boys & Girls Club data demonstrates that Clubs are successfully developing globally competitive graduates, 21st century leaders and a healthier generation.
Among Club teens, 97% expect to graduate from high school, 87 % expect to complete some kind of post-secondary education, and 69% expect to complete a four-year college degree or higher.
89% of Club survey respondents say they can stand up for what is right, even if their friends disagree.
Teens who stay in the Club as they get older seem better able to resist high-risk behaviors than their peers nationally. For instance, 95 percent of Club ninth graders report abstaining from the use of prescription pills such as opioid pain killers, compared to 89 percent of ninth graders nationally. By contrast, 94 percent of Club 12th graders report abstaining from prescription pill use, compared to 82 percent of 12th graders nationally.
(Data Source: 2018 Executive Summary of the 2018 National Outcomes Report, Boys & Girls Clubs of America)