Boys and Girls Club Alumni chapter looks to start at MU

A new service-oriented student group is in the works at Marquette. Tommy Walls, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, is seeking university approval to establish the nation’s first Allies of The Club organization.

In 2011, the Boys & Girls Clubs of America named Walls the Youth of the Year in the Midwest region. The award recognized Walls for contributions to his community and came with a scholarship. Along with the country’s five other regional winners, Walls went on to be considered for National Youth of the Year.

Walls said he was so deeply honored to receive such an award that he felt the need to give back, so he is creating the ATC. The group will be composed of Boys & Girls Club alumni and non-alumni who plan to serve current members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the greater Milwaukee area. Walls said he has taken all of the necessary steps toward making the club official and is expecting to hear back within two weeks.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America states that its mission is “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.”

Walls said ATC will focus on teaching life skills to middle and high school students so they will be better equipped to get into, and be successful in, college.

“We’ve identified five areas that we’re going to look at,” he said. “We’ve got social skills, healthy lifestyles, college readiness, professional etiquette and business and finance.”

Walls said these five topics are not all-encompassing, so the group will be open to adding to that list in the future. ATC will host workshops for Boys & Girls Clubs members in each of those areas, with each workshop run by a subcommittee within the organization. Walls said members of ATC will be placed in committees depending on their area of study.

“So business majors will be on the business and finance committee, communication majors will be on the social skills committee, science majors will be on the healthy lifestyles committee, etc.,” Walls said.

Pending university approval, the Marquette chapter of ATC will be the first of its kind in the country.

Marina Murphy, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences and a new member of ATC, said the group is already hoping to build upon its foundation at Marquette and start chapters at other schools with nearby Boys & Girls Clubs.

“We’re going to start locally,” Murphy said. “The unofficial plan is to take it to (the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), because I feel like a lot of kids from there would be interested in something like this.”

Although ATC will not be officially affiliated with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Murphy said the new organization will offer a very complementary service.

“We want the kids to know our names, know that they have somebody to talk to, have an ally outside of the (Boys & Girls) Club,” Murphy said, “somebody who they can relate to a little more, because we are closer to their age.”

Multicultural Community Outreach Coordinator and ATC faculty advisor Latrice Harris-Collins agreed that the group’s student make-up will be an asset.

“There’s no better sales pitch to motivate high schoolers,” Harris-Collins said, “than a student who’s going through it and who’s been through it.”

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