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Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties' Teens Host Culture Fest

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BGCSDC's Keystone Club, a teen leadership initiative, recently hosted Culture Fest for youth as part of a 2024 Boys & Girls Clubs of America national project. The event was designed as a collective effort to unite diverse cultural organizations in the community and offer teens enriching cultural experiences.

Keystone Club is a flagship leadership initiative for Boys & Girls Clubs of America that centers on four key areas of teen involvement - community service, academic achievement, career readiness, and outreach. Each year, participants take part in a national project and hold various initiatives. These efforts help to sponsor Club attendance at the National Keystone Conference, a four-day event dedicated to teen empowerment and engagement. 

The festival collaborated with local cultural organizations such as the Indian Association of Manasota, Sarasota Chinese Academy, and Sarasota African American Cultural Coalition. Additionally, Keystone members and Club alumni proudly showcased their heritage from countries like Haiti, Italy, Vietnam, Cuba, Ecuador, Nigeria, Venezuela, and Zambia.

Hosting Culture Fest meant I would have the opportunity to learn about the various cultures that coexist within the world. Seeing so many diverse ethnicities and backgrounds made the event seem much more integrated and global." - Mykayla G., President of the Roy McBean Keystone Club

Participants had the opportunity to explore diverse cultures through engaging activities, enlightening guest speakers, ethnic cuisines, exciting giveaway prizes, traditional customs, and cultural games.

"We recognized the importance of culture in creating unity within our community. Our journey towards organizing a national project took numerous turns, but I am grateful for those setbacks which ultimately led us to reevaluate our approach and led us down the path to a successful event. Our efforts not only surpassed our expectations but also impressed our attendees. I feel incredibly honored to have been part of something that exemplifies the beauty of diversity in our community. - Sierra M., Vice President of Roy McBean Keystone Club

Initially conceived as a one-time event as part of the national project, Culture Fest is now under consideration for an annual event based on feedback from partners and attendees.

"During Culture Fest, I had the opportunity to taste a variety of ethnic foods, which was completely out of my comfort zone but for the most part, I loved everything I tried! My favorite part of the event was when everyone danced together to Latin music and it felt like everyone was really immersing themselves in the experience we had created." - Ashley R., Keystone Club Marketing and Promotion Coordinator 

"I couldn't be more proud of this group. This was truly a teen-led project that exceeded their expectations. I want to thank all of the partners for their help in making this event a reality and a success!" - Geoffry G., Teen Program Director, Keystone Advisor 

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