One of the goals of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee is to prepare our members to be future leaders through high-quality character and leadership programming that encourages personal responsibility and smart choices. Activities such as Keystone (for youth ages 14-18) and Torch (for youth ages 9-13) Clubs within BGCGM that promote service, leadership development and community awareness is crucial to supporting that goal.
Throughout the year, Keystone and Torch Club members will assess issues within their schools, Clubs and neighborhoods and then decide on service projects to meet those needs. These service projects can take many forms from food drives, to neighborhood cleanups or even mentoring younger youth. As part of Pride Month, Keystone Club members partnered with the Clubs’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention program to provide youth outreach at PrideFest Milwaukee. Keystone members staffed the youth area to provide information about safe sex practices, create a secure environment to chat with other youth about issues they may be facing, and even provide some history behind the Pride movement, while also facilitating other fun, educational activities.
Pieper-Hillside Club member Mykyo has been a part of the Keystone Club for 5 years. Being one of many members to represent Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee at PrideFest this year for the first time, Mykyo believes the experiences he had as part of the Keystone Club will be everlasting. Mykyo says, “At age 13, I didn’t know what was going on in the world. So, as soon as I joined Boys & Girls Clubs it made me mentally and physically think about who I am and helped me fully understand myself.”
While this was the first time for many of these young people at PrideFest, they felt it was important to support the LGBTQ community, and provide support and services to their peers in that space. Part of being A Club for Every Kid is inclusivity, something the members of BGCGM’s Keystone and Torch Clubs take to heart.