Inspiring Our Youth "A" Game focuses on social, cultural and emotional connections with students to help form a community and prepare them for the future.
When Flagler Palm Coast High School student Anne-Laurie Joseph started volunteering with Inspiring Our Youth “A” Game about one year ago, she expected to be helping kids learn how to prepare for college and get connected in the community. She didn’t expect to learn much herself though.
“I’ve learned so much,” Joseph said. “It’s taught me how to be patient with some kids because I’ve watched them go from the beginning of the program and being more immature and not knowing how to deal with their peers to being more accepting and understanding.”
Joseph welcomed guests outside the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce building, located at 20 Airport Road, on Wednesday, May 23, for Inspiring Our Youth “A” Game’s ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate about one year after its incorporation in March 2017.
"This is an opportunity to show people, 'Hey look, we can get along. We can learn from each other. We might come from different world views, but we can learn from each other and really inspire and help our community move forward because our children need that.'"
- ARNOLD ANDERSON, Inspiring Our Youth "A" Game founder and president
“Inspiring Our Youth is a social and emotional program that brings mentorship to not only our youth, but to our parents and families,” Founder and President Arnold Anderson said. “We aim to do things differently. We recognize that there are systems who care who try to reach young people, but in order to reach young people and families, you have to build healthy relationships — that’s the first thing. If you build healthy relationships, people start to trust you. If you build trust, then you can see action.”
About 60 people from Flagler County and the surrounding communities gathered at the chamber building for an official ribbon-cutting, as the nonprofit is a chamber member. The attendees included: Flagler School Board members Janet McDonald, Maria Barbosa and Andy Dance; Bunnell City Commissioner John Sowell; Flagler County Commissioners Nate McLaughlin, Greg Hansen and David Sullivan; Flagler Schools Director of Exceptional Student Education Timothy King; Flagler County Sheriff’s Office Youth Services Cmdr. Phil Reynolds; and Executive Director of Florida Hospital Flagler John Subers.
“When do you really see a diverse group like that come together for one cause?” Anderson said after the ceremony. “Everybody is doing something a little bit different at different times, but bringing them all together in one spot right now — that’s what’s going to really jump this forward.”
The nonprofit does not have a building of its own yet, and Anderson said his office for now is “out of my car, out of the library, out of my house — wherever I can do it, that’s where I’m doing it. As long as I have a computer and wireless, I can get it done.”
With the nonprofit’s upcoming free summer academy, “Wakanda, a reading enrichment and STEM learning program,” Anderson said Inspiring Our Youth is looking for donations from the community.
Anderson said the summer academy, which begins June 4, has a fundraising goal of $3,000 to pay for teachers, supplies, trips and more.
“All the students that go to our monthly meetings learn about future planning, how to save your money now, how to plan for college and the different ways to pay for college without having to take money out of your own pocket,” Joseph said. “We talk about scholarships, student aid, all of that good stuff.”
Through the program, Anderson is looking to really connect with youth and families across the county.
“I’ve known Arnold for many many years, and as long as I’ve known him, he’s somehow involved with youth — helping them, protecting them,” McLaughlin said. “This has been his life.”
Anderson said he was “humbled” by the turnout at the ribbon-cutting, but he also said there’s still a lot of work to be done to become an all-inclusive community.
“People are not talking to one another, especially people cross-culturally, people are definitely not talking to one another,” he said. “This is an opportunity to show people, ‘Hey look, we can get along. We can learn from each other. We might come from different world views, but we can learn from each other and really inspire and help our community move forward because our children need that.’”
For more information, call 986-7780 or visit https://www.inspiringouryouthagame.net.