Inside the Jackson Teen Center gymnasium in Camden you’ll find so much more than a game of basketball.
“The most important thing they’re getting from this center is hope and belief in themselves,” Willie Dubose, a coach who volunteers at the
They are two powerful things many say have been cultivated by the center’s director Brian Mayes.
“What he does is feed off their dreams and tries to make them positive,” Dubose said. “Try to show them that they can do something positive
in the community.”
Mayes, who has four kids of his own, has been working with youth in Kershaw County for the past 17 years. For the last two and a half, he’s
led the center, which is a partnership between the Kershaw County School District and the Boys & Girls Club of the Midlands.
The center serves as a safe haven for kids after school and is open to all middle and high school students in Kershaw County.
“Our first year we had 18 seniors and all 18 went to college, and we were proud of that,” Mayes said. “Last year we had 28 seniors, and 26 went
to college and two to the military.”
From athletics, to academics, life-skills, college prep and job-readiness, the after-school center not only gives students a place to go, but
a place to grow.
“It opened up my eyes to all of the different opportunities I had,” 2015 high school graduate Marcus Oliver said. ‘It’s just a
wonderful place to be. It made me realize who I was.”
Oliver represents the more than 150 students who attend the center every day during the school years.
“The biggest thing I think is the raised expectations,” Kevin Rhodes who serves on the advisory committee for the Jackson Teen Center, said. “The students who come here are expected to perform well at school, period. Mr. “BB” and Mrs. Roberta really don’t tolerate anything less than that and the results are clear to everyone.”
Mrs. Roberta is Brian’s wife who leads the Job Readiness Training program.
“None of these kids call her Mrs. Roberta, everybody calls her either Mom or Auntie Bert,” Mayes said. “We just love it.”
The Mayes are also co-founders of the highly successful KC Step Team and after a practice inside the Jackson Teen Center, Camden High Principal
Dan Matthews introduced Matt Mungo before the group of teens and center staff.
“I just wanted to say because of all your work with at-need youth in our community, you have been awarded our Community Builder Award, you and
your wife Roberta,” Mungo said. “You’ll get a $1,000 check for the charity of your choice.”
It’s money the Mayes’ say will go right back into the center. As will their continued time and support.
“I don’t get up in the morning and go to work, I come to life,” Brian said. “These kids are my life.”
The Jackson Teen Center near Camden High School is normally open from 2:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily. While school is out, it has been open this week and
next Monday through Wednesday Noon until 6 p.m.
The center operates on donations through the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands that are specified for the Jackson Teen Center. Each student is asked to pay a $5 yearly membership fee, but the center never turns anyone away.
If you’d like to donate or want more information visit: http://bgadev.com/locations/kershaw/jackson-teen-center/.
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