Member Spotlight Sep 16

Life Skills Member Spotlight: Jamari M.

At almost eleven-years-old, Jamari has already been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor for six years. Just like her older sisters Latoria and Taniya, Jamari has found a second home at the Club. As she begins fifth grade, Jamari knows that she is well prepared because she received the academic support she needed at the Club this past summer. Jamari says she is so thankful for the summer literacy program where she was able to increase her reading by one-half grade level.

In addition to helping her prepare academically, the Club has also helped Jamari with her attitude. For the past two years Jamari has participated in SMART Girls, a gender-specific program designed to empower young ladies and help them develop the skills they need to become strong, successful young women. The most important lesson she has learned is to treat everyone with the respect they deserve. “Never judge a book by its cover,” says Jamari. 
Jamari has taken that lesson a step further. While she has not been the target of bullying, she has seen other girls bullied at her school. She is clear—that type of behavior is not okay with her. Jamari steps in to stop it when she sees a peer being bullied. “I don’t want to be the kind of person that stands by and watches people get bullied,” Jamari says adamantly. “If I’m not getting bullied, why should they?”

The Club is also where Jamari discovered her love of dance. As a shy six-year-old, Jamari did not know what to expect when she entered the dance/drama room. But Ardale Clark (Club alumnus and former dance/drama instructor) was playing music and it drew her in. “Without Ardale, there wouldn’t be any dance in me,” says Jamari. “He led me a long way from where I used to be. I just want to thank him for that. He didn’t know who I was, but he still laid out a path for me.”
The dance room is also where Jamari met Mikelae. Last year, Mikelae was honored as the SMART Girl of the Year by the Clubs; she is a member at the Teen Center and a freshman in high school where she dances on the Pom Squad. “Mikelae is not only nice, she has a great attitude and is really funny. She took the time to help me be a better dancer.”

The Club is a part of Jamari and she wants to see more kids have the opportunity to participate in programs. “If I could wish anything, it would be that a lot more kids get to come to the Club,” she says. “It can help them just like it helps me.”

See Jamari in action at the Dance Team performance at the Penny Carnival this past summer....

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