Boys & Girls Club of Fort Wayne’s Torch Club: Future leaders in the making

| May 4, 2016

Members of the Boys & Girls Club’s Torch Club with their advisor, Chris Wallace (back row, center).

Courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club and Frost Illustrated Youth Affairs Editor Jeanie Summerville

The 20 kids who belong to Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne are stepping up, learning to give back, and learning how to lead. These 10- to 12-year-olds are planning projects in our community and are on their way to being our future leaders.

Solomon Osborne is a sixth grader at Memorial Park and has been a Boys & Girls Club member for several years.  He is confident in himself and expresses himself easily.

“Everyone has a leader in them. Torch Club helps bring out the true leader in us,” he said.

Every year, the Torch Club elects officers and meets to decide on the projects for the year.

“The meetings are interesting, because we talk about interesting things that we are going to do. But I also look forward to the projects and field trips,” said Edward Wright, who is in fourth grade at Fairfield Elementary.

Edward has only been a Torch Club member for a few weeks. He and his classmate and fellow Club member, Nina Pokorny, were both excited when they were asked to join.

Nina explained, “I think Mr. Wallace asked us to be part of Torch Club because he saw we were a good kids and do well at school. It is all about learning what leadership is and how to become a good example.”

So, how did these Boys & Girls Club members become part of Torch Club?

Mr. Chris Wallace is the staff leader of the Torch Club at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne.

“These are great kids, and are asked to join Torch Club because of their potential in becoming leaders. By ‘great kids’, I mean that they are a positive influence on their peers, they do their best at school and are making all-around good choices.  We want to support that and this is one way of saying that we believe in them. They can–and they are – making a difference in their community and on the people they know,” explained Wallace.

The Torch Club decided to give back to the community this year by visiting the residents at Miller’s Merry Manor nursing home twice a month. The Torch Club members “adopt a grandparent” for the day. They spend time talking to the residents, keeping them company and doing different activities on every visit.  They are understanding the importance of caring about others.

“I like spending time with people in the nursing home, especially since some of them don’t have a lot of people to visit them,” said Desmonae Thomas, a sixth grader at Memorial Park

Aliyah Holbrook, who is in fifth grade at Indian Village, added “I really liked when we got to paint their fingernails! When I talk to the residents, I just ask them what they like and we can get into a conversation.”

The Torch Club has a number of projects this year, including an upcoming bake sale to raise money for their activities.

“We also helped organize a skating party for all of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne members and their families. That was a lot of fun!” said Ashia Brown, who is in sixth grade at Memorial Park, “I like helping others, and we are doing cool, fun things in the community in Torch Club”.

Torch Club is just one of the activities that members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne can participate in at the Clubs every day after school. Experienced staff members lead programs and work closely with the children, who range from six to 18 years of age. The Club focuses on bringing out the full potential of each member, and encourages them to do their best in school, develop good character traits and make healthy choices now and for their future.

“I’ve seen Torch Club change kids. They open up, learn to communicate with peers and adults and are motivated to keep their grades up. Torch Club is teaching our pre-teens to lead by being caring and giving to others,” said Wallace, proudly. “These are great kids with a lot of potential. The most important thing is to believe in our kids—they feel that and step up in a very positive way. And I definitely believe in these kids.”

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