Airdrie youth touches lives at Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie
Airdrie’s Mitchell George considers himself one of the luckiest people in the community.
Every morning when he wakes up to go to work, he feels like he is going home.
George, 20, has worked at the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie for about four years. His tenure began while he was attending Bert Church High School when former principal Nancy Adams encouraged him to get involved.
“She told me to come get some work experience for school credits,” said George.
Hesitant at first because of his former dislike for being in large groups, George said he “finally manned up and applied to become a counselor.”
He landed the job and hasn’t looked back.
Now a program coordinator with a heart for youth and a creative bent, George is responsible for after-school programming at The Centre, the club’s youth facility located in the Ron Ebbesen Arena.
He also works at summer camps and was instrumental in the formation of the BG Café, a weekly open-mike session initiated by George at The Centre last September.
George describes the BG Café as “his sweetheart” and said he is thrilled how the program has grown from its humble beginnings.
“We started with an old mike, a stool and an acoustic guitar,” said George.
“Slowly, we started getting sponsorship from local fans, SLAM (Supporting Local Area Musicians), Telus. Now we have a stage and instruments. I feel enthralled about it and I appreciate all the supports.”
George said he hopes to grow the music offerings at the Boys and Girls Club, and will be offering guitar lessons this fall.
He is also considering organizing a musical production to be put on by members.
George, a guitarist, singer and songwriter, first picked up a guitar at age 14. He taught himself to play and is recording an acoustic alternative album with a friend.
Making the transition to penning his own lyrics wasn’t difficult for George, as he has been writing short stories, poetry and plays since he was seven.
“Writing was something huge for me,” he said. “It was an escape.”
According to George, his creative pursuits have helped foster relationships at the club.
“Common interests can help build relationships with kids,” he said.
“A lot of people are really excited… when I play a lick, they want to sit around and then they want to play a lick. It’s a barrier breaker.”
George’s life hasn’t always looked so promising.
“It was earlier in my life that it was a little rougher,” said George.
“There was bullying and I was a homeless teen for a while living out of my car.”
George said the desperate situation was changed when he stepped through the Boys and Girls Club of Airdrie’s doors.
He felt immediately accepted and began to grow.
“This place means the world to me,” said George. “It changed my life. It saved my life.”
Now George hopes to do the same for others.
This fall, he will be attending Mount Royal University with the ultimate goal of achieving his child and youth diploma.
He is thrilled to have discovered his niche.
“This is what I love to do, this is what I want to do,” said George, who will continue to work at the club.
According to George, kids from all backgrounds and ages are sure to find something of interest at the club.
For teens 13 and older, there are many activities including the BG Café, recording studio, DJ lessons and video game tournaments.
George said he would like to dispel any misconceptions about the organization and attract all youth to the club.
“For anyone who looks at (the club) and tried to downsize it… it is full of amazing staff and amazing opportunities, and if more people saw that, (the club) would be a lot (more popular) in the community,” said George.
George said he would find it difficult to cut ties with the club and is thankful he has the opportunity to work with amazing co-workers and make an impact on the lives of youth.
“When I wake up and go to work, it’s like going home,” he said.