Fifteen teen leaders in our Keystone Club joined 2,000 like-minded peers from other Boys & Girls Clubs across the globe in Atlanta, Georgia, at Georgia State University June 22-24 for the 51st Annual National Keystone Conference. Keystone Club is a unique leadership development experience that provides teen Club members, ages 14-18, with opportunities to enhance their academic success while preparing for their future careers and improving their communities through service projects.
“This is the first Keystone Conference in its 51-year history to be held on a university campus,” said Thomas Colon, Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club Director. “This was also the first time many of our participating teens had ever been on a campus; you could feel their excitement to be surrounded by what could one day be their next step in their journey to success.”
Presented by Aaron’s, Inc., the event united thousands of teens from diverse communities throughout the globe to connect, engage and explore relevant social issues that teens face each day, such as stereotypes, race and equality, through the conference’s theme “What’s the Move? Ignite Change.”
Aaron’s partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s (BGCA) Keystone Program inspires teens to “Own It” by taking ownership of their choices to build the lives they deserve. The Aaron’s and Keystone Club “Own Your Future” campaign supports three principles:
- Own Your Path: No matter where you come from, the future is yours to decide.
- Own Your Decisions: Making good choices opens more doors for your future.
- Own Your Community: Use your talents to make an impact in your community.
Our Keystone Club members participated in various breakout sessions throughout the three-day event to build leadership skills, increase their awareness and appreciation of diversity and to establish positive relationships with their peers from around the world.
“The College and Career Expo at the Keystone Conference opened my eyes to a world of opportunities for my future,” said Katherine H., 17, Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club member. “I know the leadership skills I’ve learned as a Keystone Club member will help me succeed in pursuing whatever career path I choose.”
Teens also gathered each day to listen to inspiring stories from keynote speakers such as Olympian John Carlos, BGCA Alumnus and multifaceted celebrity Nick Cannon and singer-songwriter Keri Hilson.
“Each of the keynote speakers had an empowering message,” said Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club member Desiree G., 16. “We have the power to make meaningful change in our communities by finding our voice and coming together as tomorrow’s leaders.”
Click here to learn more about opportunities for teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County.