Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Buidling Life Skills and Having Fun

Jul 29, 2015 08:33PM
by Robin Fillmore

Though school may still be out for the summer, there is some serious learning and growing taking place at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington (BGCGW). There are clubs in Alexandria, the District, Fairfax, Montgomery, Prince George’s and Prince William counties serving thousands of area children, with the goal of teaching valuable life lessons while providing a safe place for the kids to play with their friends.

Recently, Natural Awakenings publisher, Robin Fillmore, had the opportunity to meet with a group of inspired young people who will be sharing their own editorial, design and sales skills to produce a magazine out of the Culmore Club, in Fairfax County. The goal of this new quarterly magazine, due to come out in September according to club volunteer Tracy Ricken, is to provide a place for the kids to get real experience in writing the stories, designing the pages and making sales pitches for advertisements to businesses and organizations that already support the club.

Yered Kebede, known to his friends as Jared, not only attends but also serves as a junior counselor. A lot of responsibility for a 14 year old, he sets up breakfast for the club members and provides a watchful eye over the younger children at certain points of the day. There is a range of classes that are offered throughout the week from which the club members chose. The magazine is one of those classes managed by Ricken. Another offering that Kedege likes is Empowerment Leadership where the children are learning to meditate to music.

Brenda Delgado Perez is in the magazine class as well and is looking forward to sharing her writing and newly discovered design skills. This soon-to-be 11 year old (Happy Birthday, Brenda!) is a first-time summer camper and enjoys all that the club has to offer. Ricken is offering a writing competition as a way to inspire the children to get some words to paper for the new magazine. Perez is planning her submission—a piece on writing. She, like most of the kids, are excited to learn about 3-D printing and also has fun in cooking class. With a menu like smoothies and s’mores, what is not to love?

Yassie Fuentes is looking forward to the chance to show her creative side when they start production of the magazine—particularly working with the pictures. This 10 year old has been coming to the club for three years, enjoying the opportunity to ride bikes and play sports like basketball and kickball, with her friends. She, and all the girls at the club, take part in Smart Girls, a class that is devoted to sharing how great it is to be a girl and how to be smart about caring for themselves.

The idea for the magazine came to Ricken in a dream but others, like Branch Director Wonhee Kang, saw the vision and have supported it enthusiastically. Ricken had been coming to Culmore initially as part of a group called Human Activation, which brings the meditation and music classes to the club. Eventually, Ricken started volunteering on her own so that she could be more involved and even brings her own children. She recently began serving on a board committee called Next Generation, so that the vision of the BGCGW can discover new ways that the clubs can serve the needs of the children with fresh eyes and a renewed passion for service.

In addition to the writings of the children, the magazine, which will be distributed throughout the Falls Church community, will share information about the events being at the club such as volunteer service day on September 26 and a monthly program offered by the local police to sit down over a meal with parents and children. And of course, there will be great pictures of all their smiling faces.

For more information about the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, visit


Global Brief
Health Brief