Alexis B. with decorations image

When I lead and share my story, girls in the program come out of their shell.

Learning to Speak Up for Herself and Girls Like Her
Posted 10/07/2020 by Alexis Balentine in Club Stories

When I walked into the Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley for the first time more than ten years ago, I had no idea this organization would teach me how to share my story — or that one day I would get to help other girls like me learn to do the same.

I was just 8 years old when I joined the Club. The youngest of three kids of a single mom, life was tough. But I didn’t talk about it. I was very reserved until the Club taught me how to step out of my comfort zone.

Today, I work at the same Club that changed my life. I’m 19, studying criminal justice at San Jose State University, and I’m on the Dean’s List. So many of the programs and people at the Boys & Girls Club helped me become the strong young woman I am today.

Programs like SMART Girls and winning Youth of the Year at my local Club helped me find my voice, understand how to connect with others and learn how to speak up. SMART Girls helps girls develop healthy attitudes about ourselves and our relationships, and it let me form new bonds with girls I might not have otherwise met. Today, I lead and facilitate the program at my local Club, giving back through a program that gave me so much.

Because I learned as a Club kid to share my story and ask good questions, I’m a better facilitator. My past helps me help more girls. When I lead and share my story, girls in the program come out of their shell. They’re able to talk about things I know they’d like to share — about what has hurt them or affected them.

Growing up, it was also the little things staff did that meant so much to support girls like me and help ensure we’d have a great future. Things like encouraging me to join sports teams when I was shy and hanging back in the arts or the games room. Or taking me to so many “firsts,” like my first football game, baseball game or concert. Or going out of their way to offer so many programs that give girls a voice, like the Keystone Club.

The Boys & Girls Club has been such an important part of my life. They didn’t just help me learn to tell my story — they helped create it. And now thanks to the Club, I have the chance to help do the same for more girls and Club kids, too.

Give More Girls a Great Future
Every girl deserves the chance to exceed beyond the circumstances that surround them. Your donation to Boys & Girls Clubs of America will support programs that level the playing field so every girl has access to the mentors, experiences and opportunities she needs to have a great future — and be the leader we all need now.



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