Impacting Youth Today For a Greater Future

Home » Standard Blog » Impacting Youth Today For a Greater Future
Impacting Youth Today For a Greater Future

Impacting Youth Today For a Greater Future

Henry County’s own Boys & Girls Club location has been helping young people for nearly three years, and one in particular has been singled out as a prime example of how teens can benefit from the facility’s numerous programs.

The Shaquille O’Neal Boys & Girls Club recently hosted its Youth of the Year celebration gala and announced that Kaci Chandler has been named the club’s Youth of the Year. The 17-year-old is a junior at McDonough High School, where she was named to this year’s homecoming court.

“Kaci has been an extraordinary leader in her club,” said Christin Jackson, a spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta. That sentiment was echoed by Ebony McClendon, the director of the Shaq Club, which opened in August of 2021.

“We don’t pick anybody we wouldn’t consider a leader because this person will represent the club for an entire year,” she said. “Kaci helps out around the club. Her grades are good. She is always helping out with our younger members. She has just become a really good role model.”

Kaci is considering what she might want to do after high school, and she has listed her main interests as cosmetology and fashion design. She has credited the club with helping to improve her communication skills and exposing her to different life paths through college/career readiness programs. She especially appreciates her club for starting a hair club to help with cosmetology skills.

“She is interested in business and entrepreneurship,” said McClendon. “She is one of our quieter kids, but she has really started to come out of her shell.”

The Shaq Club has an entrepreneurship program in which young people create their own products. Other clubs operate at the facility on Holly Smith Drive in McDonough, the former site of Henry County Middle School, and athletic programs are also in place.

“All of our programs revolve around three pillars: healthy lifestyles, academic success, character, and leadership,” said McClendon.

As of mid-February, just over 360 young people were registered participants at the club, and McClendon said an average of 170-180 of them stop by each day between the end of the school day and 8 p.m. when the club closes. Transportation is provided to the club from a half-dozen public schools in the county.

“We are about serving more kids more often and with greater impact,” said Jackson.

The importance of the club’s mission is not at all lost on Kaci Chandler. “Teens are the leaders of the future,” she said. “They will mold the future of our society.”

By Monroe Roark