Several teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley’s Keystone Club brought home national recognition from Dallas in July.
The 12 club members attended the National Keystone Conference in Texas after scrounging up funds, completely on their own, to get them there.
Matt Nelson, CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, said that, after the group attended last year’s conference in Anaheim, the teens were particularly dedicated to going to this year’s event. However, Nelson was worried that, because of the travel costs, he’d only be able to send around six members, but the team’s efforts ensured that a dozen would be able to go.
“It’s incredible, especially with all that teens face today, their challenges. They could just spend their time on social media or at home or (playing) video games, but they choose to be active and be leaders in their community,” said Nelson. “So we’re very proud of them.”
Nelson added that their achievements were a testament to the fact that it didn’t matter where someone came from, that if any kid was presented with the resources, support and opportunities, they were capable of achieving success.
The team of a dozen was completely organized and led by its members. Nelson said Boys & Girls Club leaders “didn’t tell them what to do” and that motivation was derived entirely from within themselves.
In a press statement released by the Boys & Girls Club, it was noted that the club received the “There is no PLANet B” award — given to clubs that demonstrated a positive influence on their community in an effort to combat climate change.
Nelson said their award-winning project centered on a two-pronged approach — education and service. The club, composed of the 14-year-olds through 18-year-olds, aimed to educate the younger members about what climate change is, how it affects them and their generation and how they can make an impact.
The other prong’s goal, service, was aimed at leading by example. The club participated in the city of Santa Clarita’s annual River Rally, which cleans up the local river and creek beds with the help of over 1,000 volunteers. The Keystone members also set up a new recycling program for the Boys & Girls Club.
“They just go to show that no matter where kids are from, if you give them the right opportunity and support, they can achieve great things and, seeing them work together … it’s, it’s incredible,” said Nelson.