Member Spotlight Nov 15

Rising Above  Member Spotlight: 2015 SMART Girl of the Year Mikelae Kirby

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor are so pleased to recognize Mikelae Kirby as the 2015 SMART Girl of the Year. Thirteen-year-old Mikelae was honored at the recent SMART Girls Rise Above Luncheon, held at the Fettig Youth Campus on November 12. Mikelae became a Club member on her sixth birthday, and over the past seven years has taken advantage of all the Clubs have to offer. 

The SMART Girls program encourages young women—ages 9 to 18—to engage in a healthy lifestyle and teaches skills to make good decisions and avoid risky behavior. Through age-specific small group sessions and activities, field trips, and mentoring by local women leaders, Club girls learn skills about nutritious eating, becoming physically fit, enjoying good health care, developing caring relationships, and having a positive self-image. 
The team of instructors at the Clubs have coached and been privileged to watch Mikelae mature to become a leader at the Clubs and at school. When asked who they see as a role model, younger girls in the SMART Girls program will, without hesitation, say it is Mikelae. 

“SMART Girls teaches me how to work hard, get good grades in school and to always be a leader,” says Mikelae. “I want to avoid the negative things that I see happening to some girls in our community. I will walk the Benton Harbor High School field as a graduate.” 

Mikelae is the first Club member in the homework room each day, setting the example of how important going to school and getting good grades are to those who look up to her. “She is a special young lady,” said Liji Hanny, Director of Operations at the Fettig Youth Campus. He continued, “Mikelae understands the responsibility that comes with leadership, staying humble in the spotlight and she continues to exemplify the values at the core of the SMART Girls program.”
“Girls in our community are facing enormous challenges to their health at shockingly young ages,” explains Dr. Lynn Todman, SMART Girls Rise Above Luncheon co-chair and Executive Director, Population Health at Lakeland Hospital. “It isn’t enough to tell them to eat right, exercise, and avoid risky behaviors. We need to create environments in our communities that support and promote healthy behaviors. SMART Girls is part of that environment.”

Marcia Fettig, the luncheon co-chair, agreed. “This event is important, and the SMART Girls program is vital for the girls in our community. If we want adults who are healthy and make smart life choices to create a strong community, then we have to support our young ladies now.”

Congratulations, Mikelae Kirby, for the leadership, academic success, and healthy lifestyle that exemplifies being a Boys & Girls Club SMART Girl of the Year.

To learn more about SMART Girls Rise Above, visit
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