Boys & Girls Clubs of America honors military youth during Month of the Military Child
As a military kid, Desha J. faced many ups and downs. After her mother’s transfer from Germany to JB Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Desha found it difficult to break out of her shell and build friendships at school. However, when she discovered her Boys & Girls Clubs of America-Affiliated Youth Center, she found a safe place where she was able to make friends, have fun, and gain the critical technical, social and emotional skills she needed to succeed. With the help of dedicated youth development professionals, she became confident and an accomplished leader and role model at her Youth Center.
With the coronavirus pandemic forcing schools and after-school programs to close, America’s kids need us now more than ever. During Month of the Military Child in April, Boys & Girls Clubs of America honors the 533,000 school-age military youth we serve. Military youth face unique challenges compared to other kids – on average, military families move six to nine times before their children graduate high school. The resiliency military youth demonstrate is remarkable, and elevating stories like Desha’s are important during challenging times.
In 2016, she “fell in love with STEM” as a participant in the grand opening of her Youth Center’s STEM Center of Innovation. Funded by Raytheon, the Centers of Innovation provide military-connected youth with access to advanced technologies that stimulate creative approaches to STEM exploration, and help military youth develop their STEM and critical thinking skills Through this type of programming, consistency and continuity are brought to military-connected kids’ lives. After the grand opening, Desha became an on-going and engaged facilitator at her STEM Center of Innovation.
Desha was named “Northeast Military Youth of the Year” in 2019, and in Fall 2020, she will be entering her senior year at Bowie State University. She hopes to pursue a STEM-focused career path.
Desha’s experiences and resiliency as a military child have helped prepare her to navigate through the fear and uncertainty of COVID-19. While she misses her close friends and family and feels uneasy about her current summer internship plans, she continues to maintain a positive outlook.
“Being a military kid has prepared me for this pandemic. You need to have that resiliency…the ability to adapt, overcome and put your best foot effort forward to help you get through these uncertain times.”
Desha is only one example of hundreds of thousands of resilient military-connected youth. Clubs around the country, and the world, are prepared to do whatever it takes to support America’s military youth and communities, especially during times of crisis. The Boys & Girls Club experience and programs like Military Youth of the Year, our teen engagement initiatives and our STEM Centers of Innovation, give youth access to opportunities that equip them for success in college and career, no matter where military life takes them.