You Give Kids a Place to Be Themselves and Be INCLUDED
If you have come through the Teen Center at any point over the last few years, chances are good that you have met one of our best Club Ambassadors, Ben.
Ben has been a Club member since he was a 5th grader attending our Wayne Street site. Now he is in 10th grade.
Early on in life, Ben faced many challenges. When he was born, some of the bony plates in his skull that allow for growth of the skull were already fused together. At just 5 months old, Ben went through his first of many surgeries.
Since then, Ben has had 8 different skull surgeries, 5 separate eye surgeries, and battled Meningitis twice in the same year.
Today, Ben is living with several plates and a hole in his skull.
Ben has also had to overcome challenges in the classroom, like having ADHD and cognitive challenges. Ben has an individualized education plan (IEP) and is in special education and inclusion classes.
Growing up, Ben struggled to make friends in his neighborhood – unfortunately many of the kids were scared of Ben simply because he was different.
Thanks to YOU, Ben found the Club where he is always welcomed, loved, and feels like he belongs.
Ben’s grandmother and legal guardian Ms. Joann says, “there has never been a time when he’s come home and been discouraged about attending the Club. He is always excited to go the Boys & Girls Club, in fact he’s usually upset when the Club is closed.”
You Make Sure Kids of All Abilities are Included and Experience New Things at the Club—Thank you!
At the Club Ben is accepted and doesn’t have to worry about whether or not he will fit in.
Not only is Ben included in all of the Club’s group activities and Teen Center members always make sure that no one is left out, but he also has good friends at the Club who have faced similar challenges and understand him.
This summer, the Teen Center members were invited by the Predators to go ice skating at the Ford Ice Center in Nashville. Now, Ben is not usually an adventurous teen. Trying new things gives Ben anxiety and often he shuts down.
Fortunately, one of the volunteers from the Predators staff spent the entire time helping Ben learn to skate. Ben overcame his fear, stepped out of his comfort zone, and persevered! The volunteer Mr. John picked Ben up when he fell, taught him new techniques, and was patient with Ben.
Ms. Joann was able to come and see Ben ice skating. It brought her to tears! She was overwhelmed by the kindness from Mr. John and the Club for making sure Ben has opportunities to try new things and be included, just like his peers.
These are the opportunities that YOU give to kids of all abilities when you send them to the Club.
One of Ben’s favorite programs at the Teen Center is Culinary Club. This summer, he got to participate in our CHOPPED: Teen Center Edition competition! As part of Chopped, Chef Paul Jensen from the Dotted Lime helped four teams come up with and prepare their dish. Each team then had to present their dish to a panel of guest judges (including local restaurateurs Andy Marshall and Shawn “Big Shakes” Davis).
When you ask Ben why he likes coming to the Club, he says: “I have a lot of friends here, including the staff.” He also really enjoyed cooking in Chopped this summer. “I liked fixing food with my friend Emily and Mr. Paul. Mr. Paul is a good chef.”
“As much as Ben loves superheroes, he is MY superhero,” Ms. Joann says. “My gratitude and appreciation [for your support] is overwhelming, more than I can express. Without your support, Ben wouldn’t have support.”