*For more information about our 2009 Fundraising Drive, please visit our Donations page.*
The following post is courtesy of Graham Sowa, a former Gaborone Teen Club Volunteer:
Teen Club: Between the Saturdays
The Gaborone Teen Club meets one Saturday a month, but this post is going to be about the impact Teen Club has on the teen participants between meetings. After all, the mission of Teen Club is to encourage “…a healthy transition into adulthood.” It seems like this would be quite an undertaking with only a few hours of meeting time every month. In reality, the contact that teens have with each other, Teen Club volunteers and Baylor staff is an every day event.
I volunteered with the Botswana-Baylor Children’s Clinical Centre of Excellence for seven months and every day there would be teens who would come stop by our part of the office to say ‘hi,’ ask for some help, maybe check their email, or help plan the next Teen Club event. There are also Teen Leaders meetings, which brings together Teen Leaders elected by their peers in a decision making capacity for the larger Teen Club body. There are also clinic visits, which can very in frequency from weekly to once every few months depending on the current health status of the teen. Of course, there is also the daily contact that teens have with other Teen Club members in their schools and neighborhoods. The impact of all of these encounters is to strengthen the social solidarity that begins at the monthly Teen Club events.
What I saw especially important in these out-of-Teen-Club interactions was that the teens were choosing relationships on their own terms. They are making conscious decisions to pursue friendships with their Teen Club acquaintances. And even in my short time of observing Teen Club events I saw how a relationship between two teens could start out downright unfamiliar at one Teen Club event, but by the next Teen Club event these two people are now best friends. Obviously something was happening between the Teen Club events that allowed these friendships to blossom. That is where the true value of Teen Club lies. The investment of time and money necessary to run Teen Club is really very small considering we are only hosting one Teen Club event a month. But with that small investment Teen Club is making an impact in the daily lives of our members. The daily manifestation of Teen Club in our members’ lives is something we consider to be crucial for teens completing key social and psychological milestones toward a healthy transition into adulthood.