Throughout this past year, and across the nation, Keystone teens developed service projects aligned with the National Keystone Project theme United We Stand. Keystone Club members were asked to assess the ethnic, racial and religious climate in their communities, then develop service projects to encourage tolerance and diversity. This is no small matter. Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation serve a diverse population, with members belonging to many racial, ethnic and religious groups.
In Menlo Park, California, teens at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Peninsula teamed up with local officials to create a learning experience called “Don’t Stop Dreaming.” Inspired by the work of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Don’t Stop Dreaming” educates youth about civic participation and pathways to elected office, trains them to inform peers of their civil rights and liberties and empowers them to be agents of justice and unity in their communities. In March, Keystone teens hosted Dream Summit 2k18, a one-day event to build self-esteem, confidence, and knowledge of civil rights and liberties among high school students.
In Las Vegas, seeking to make “all teens feel safe no matter their gender, race, ethnic background or sexual preference,” teens at Boys & Girls Clubs of Southern Nevada became involved with their local LGBTQ community. After attending the Las Vegas PRIDE Parade, they painted a wall mural representing and dedicated to the diversity that all teens are accepted and welcome in the club.
And right here in Atlanta, Keystone teens from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta invited community leaders and local high schools to collaborate on how to create an inclusive environment in their communities. This gave Atlanta area teens a chance to speak up and begin conversations of diversity and differences with each other.
With teens like these, we are confident about the future. Aaron’s supports the Keystone teen leadership program– we’re excited to equip the 2,000 teens who attended the conference in Atlanta this weekend and we know they will return to their hometowns across the country inspired and ready to effect change.
<em>Robert W. Kamerschen is general counsel and president of the Aaron’s Foundation.</em>