This week is National Boys & Girls Club of America week, and I had the pleasure of being joined for an interview with famed ballerina, Misty Copeland who got her start in ballet at the Boys & Girls Club of America at the age of 13. Misty discussed how the Boys & Girls Club shaped her life, where she thinks she’d be without the renowned club, and how you can be a positive influence on youth, especially during National Boys & Girls Club week (April 7th through the 13th).
Candace Rose: How did you get started in ballet?
Misty Copeland: “Through the Boys & Girls Club. I was a member of the Boys & Girls Club in San Pedro, California. I think I was about 11 when I first joined, and at the age of 13 they were giving free ballet lessons at my local Boys & Girls Club, and I took my first ballet class on the basketball court. I was brought into the local ballet school on full scholarship, and four years later I was dancing at American Ballet Theatre and here I am!”
Candace Rose: Was ballet something that you fell in love with immediately?
Misty Copeland: “Immediately. I didn’t have any knowledge of ballet before the Boys & Girls Club, but as soon as I stepped onto a stage I was sold and was all I could ever think of doing with my life.”
Candace Rose: What does it take to be a positive role model for youth?
Misty Copeland: “It’s something that I’m really thinking about. It’s important for me, being one of the few African American females in this position as a classical ballet dancer. I think it’s important for me to carry myself in a positive way and be a positive example, because who knows when there’s going to be another one to come along so I feel like I have to be this positive light for people to see.”
Candace Rose: What are some ways we can encourage the youth in our own communities in a positive way?
Misty Copeland: “Well, definitely through this week, it’s National Boys & Girls Club week starting April 7th through the 13th, so just being a part of the community and reaching out to your local Boys & Girls Clubs and just learning about how much they can offer a family, a family overall. And parents learning about how much they can help their children with their education, with healthy eating, all of these things.
I think by simply reaching out to your local Boys & Girls Club, especially during this week is the right way to start.”
Candace Rose: How has the Boys & Girls Club of America impacted your life?
Misty Copeland: “They’ve changed my life, I think. I definitely would not be where I’m at now had I not been a member. It was such a positive place for me and my five siblings to be when my mother was working as a single parent. I can’t imagine where I would be without it. It was just this positive place for us to be with amazing examples around us. I don’t know where I’d be without it.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Misty Copeland: “Yes, you can learn more about National Boys & Girls Club week, you can take a virtual tour online at GreatFutures.org/BGCWeek.”