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Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Rapids launches new summer programming for teens

Updated: Jun. 21, 2021 at 6:11 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - 13-year-old Thierry Boyd and 12-year-old Deronte Strong are mentors for the Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Rapids Summer Brain Academy.

A primary goal of the program is to prevent summer learning loss for the younger people they work with.

“I wanted to get involved helping the little kids learn and have fun too because they look up to us. We are much older and as they follow we have to set a good example,” Boyd said.

It’s also part of the club’s new career academy eight-week program. The two are among 10 teenagers in the program, which Lori Ampey, the director of programming and outreach for the Boys and Girls Club, said is to teach the young people from the inside out.

“We know that the age of 14 they’re starting to think about their careers,” Ampey said. “One thing some of them are missing is are they ready for the challenge of taking on a job? So we’re trying to build good character with them by teaching them about self-care, teaching them about service.”

Boyd, Strong, and the other kids will volunteer 100 hours each until August. Ampey said she wants them to look at career development differently in the aspect of them also understanding their value in the workplace.

“One of the things we’re trying to teach them when we’re building character is to know what they are looking for in an employer and what are some of the things that are a must for them,” Ampey said.

Ampey said she also wants to push them to think beyond. Boyd plays football and wants a future in the NFL and Strong wants to go into racial justice activism.

“80% of kids are always focused on wanting to be in the NBA and NFL, and I think those are all great choices, but I also think they need to know that there are many options to sports. There sportscasting. There is owning a team,” Ampey said.

The big takeaway she wants is for them to build confidence in the years beyond right now, starting with this Summer.

“I hope to learn life lessons, and learning more about like things so we can have more knowledge as we are going on to help in the future,” Boyd said.

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