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Arina is a senior at East High School, Club member at the E.T. Meredith Jr. Club and the 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa Youth of the Year. When she came to BGCCI, she was introverted, shy and rarely talked to people.


After joining Club in 7th grade, Arina began making new friends when she participated in team activities she enjoyed, like League of Legends, basketball, video games and STEM programming. These experiences helped Arina find friends with common interests and allowed her to feel comfortable coming out of her shell.


Arina’s confidence grew after making new friends and attending Club. She became more engaged in school and asking questions when she didn’t understand something instead of simply putting her head down. She also reached out to other students who seemed to be struggling to make new friends. By participating, growing and becoming engaged in school and Club, Arina was awarded Youth of the Year and is interested in using her talents and confidence by pursuing a career in the medical field while also being an advocate for education equality in her community.



Elijah, a 4th grader at school joined our Ross Club halfway through the semester. He has always struggled with school. Rather than being present in the classroom, he had a tendency to wander around and act uninterested in what he was learning in class. However, Elijah struggles at recognizing good behaviors, so our Club staff works extra hard with him to help him develop this critical social skill.


Elijah was also reading slightly below grade level. Shortly after joining Ross Club, we quickly saw how much he enjoyed coming to Club. He always did what he was asked to do, followed all of our rules, and is a fun addition to our Ross Club. To help fill these gaps, our Club staff worked with Elijah to help him develop these areas so he can use those skills outside of Club and in school.

Elijah's family had a lot going on at home that distracted him from his school work. Club staff realized how important Club is for Elijah. Not only does he get to work on filling the gaps in his behavior and learning, but Elijah also has an outlet after school hours where he can explore, learn, play, and grow.



Amen, a 9th grader at school, joined our E.T. Meredith Club over three years ago. Shortly after joining Club, Amen realized all of the opportunities BGCCI offers to learn, grow and succeed. 

From hanging out with his friends, to studying and catching up on homework, or even learning new recipes in Cooking Club, Amen knows that everyone who attends Club can find what interests them. 

For Amen, Club has taught him how to have fun, but most of all, Amen believes Club has taught him to always have respect for others and treat others who you would want to be treated. He hopes to continue to share with other youth why Club is so important because he knows we are always better together.



Camari is a 9th grade Club member at the Huskies Club and the 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa Junior Youth of the Year. Camari believes she can use her experience at Club to demonstrate how to be a good role model to others.


Camari feels that Club has given her the opportunity to develop the best version of herself, by participating in volunteer opportunities, taking part in fun programming and making more friends than she ever imagined. Club has encouraged Camari to get out of her comfort zone and she has learned the value of mentorship as she’s built strong relationships with the staff at Huskies Club, who encourage her to be the best she can be.


Camari never feels alone when she is at Club and her experience, and encouragement from staff and friends, has taught her to always stand up for what she believes in.  

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