Boys & Girls Clubs: Shaping great futures

The Boys & Girls Clubs of American Samoa held a special ceremony last week Friday, August 7, 2015 to celebrate its 3rd Year Anniversary and to officially close its 8-week Summer “Brain Gain” Program.

The event was highlighted by a Samoan elei fashion show and Samoan dance “siva” performances prepared by BGCAS Cadet, Junior and Senior Mentees, Mentors and Summer Youth Employment Program Staff.

The BGCAS Chairman of the Board and Chief Volunteer Officer Mrs. Mary Ann Tulafono thanked parents, families, local Government leaders and Departments, businesses and organizations for the continued support of BGCAS, which is the only one of its kind in the South Pacific.

The BGCAS is an official charter member of the National Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the renowned after school youth development program with over 4,000 Club sites for children ages 6 to 18 in the United States, Territories and military installations around the world. In its 2013 Philanthropy 400 report, The Chronicle of Philanthropy ranked BGCA 19th among all nonprofit organizations and #1 among youth organizations for the 21st consecutive year.

The BGCAS Summer “Brain Gain” Program provided Mentees with an array of innovative and fun filled learning activities to help prevent summer learning loss. Mrs. Tulafono expressed how it is important to keep the child’s mind focused and active during the summer vacation break.

Studies have shown the negative affects of summer learning loss that contributes to the alarming achievement gap between low- and high-income youth, hence the name “Brain Gain” helping to prevent “Brain Drain”.

Programs offered to the BGCAS Mentees included STEM activities, life skills lessons, fa’aaloalo “respect” Fa’aSamoa lessons, Triple Play healthy lifestyles activities, journal writing, Club Tech technology lessons, community service projects, cook off competitions and a community garden organized by the Department of Agriculture. BGCAS also participated in the Regal Summer Movie Express through a grant from the Regal Entertainment Group and Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Community Involvement activities included special presentations and activities by Mrs. Tina Reid of “Cheat Day”, Dr. Valentina Pola-Tunoa BGCAS Board Secretary, Dr. Christina Pola-Willis and the DOH LBJ Dental Service Team, Ms. Andra Samoa and the “Alofa Mo Meaola” organization and BGCAS Senior Mentor Julius Lauvao who taught a Samoan “Elei” Fabric Printing program. The Clubhouse also organized a car wash fundraiser and a service project through its youth leadership programs, the Keystone Club and Torch Club.

During Friday’s ceremony, outstanding Mentees were awarded a certificate and a $10 Nuuuli Place Regal Entertainment Group gift card for exemplifying the BGCA’s three pillars; Academic Success, Good Character & Citizenship and Healthy Lifestyles. The boy and girl from each age group who received the BGCAS Mentee Award for the School and Program Year 2014-2015 are Cadets ages 6-9: Grady Mareko and Ivangelica Sialega, Juniors ages 10-12: Mareko Tuimavave and Nelynna Fanene and Seniors ages 13-18: Zyon Maneafaiga and Levanimonimo Taula. Aaron Hert received the Overall Most Improved award and fourteen Summer Youth Employment Program staff received a certificate of appreciation and a T-shirt donated by Arizona Cardinals Mrs. Reagan Maui’a. The awards were presented by Chairman of the Board Mrs. Mary A.T. Tulafono and Board Member Samana Semo Ve’ave’a.

The event concluded with an anniversary cake ceremony where Noelani Siataga, one of the very first registered Mentee, and Siale Moli, the newest Mentee, had the honor of blowing out the candles.

Applications are now available to enroll students ages 6 to 18 for the new school year Afterschool Program that starts on September 8th. Limited slots are available. Afterschool Program hours are from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. Visit the BGCAS website, for more information or call 699-2222. Boys & Girls Clubs of America continues to operate under the mantra, Great Futures Start Here.