“They think all the Boys & Girls Club is for is kids playing basketball, or babysitting, but boy, are they wrong.” New Iberia Boys and Girls Club Director Brianna Davis is the picture of a dedicated, enthusiastic leader, and she has good cause to be. Despite these misconceptions about the purpose and scope, she and her staff are accomplishing great things for the youth of New Iberia.
More accurately, the Boys & Girls Club staff is leading those youth to accomplish great things for themselves. Take Zykeiveyun Narcisse, for example. Zyk, or ‘Shrimp’, as he is known around the club, has just been named Louisiana State Youth of the Year, having been first named Acadiana Youth of the Year.
Zykeiveyun is 18, he has been participating in the Boys and Girls Club since he was seven years old. He lives nearby, so he walks to the club daily. He has taken his Youth of the Year titles in stride, and looks forward to the state competition with calm confidence. “I like being part of the Boys & Girls Club for the activities, the opportunities it gives me, but mostly for the people. The children always seem to teach me new things. I love their energy,” he said.
When asked which activities were his favorites, Narcisse gave a diverse answer. “I like the Triple Play football, just because I like anything football. I also like Passport to Manhood. It teaches kids about the future responsibilities of parenthood, taking care of their families and how to get the skills they need to be responsible adults.
He also has some great plans for the future. “I want to get an associate’s degree in business at SLCC, and get my degree at UL. Then I’d like to open my own business: a Sports Complex for New Iberia. I would include a gym, baseball and football for our youth to practice and play.”
But that is not the only dream this young man has. “Later on, I’d like to open my own Soul Food restaurant. I would cook all the dishes my Papaw taught me: red beans, anything on the grill – ribs, pork chops, sausage, hamburger patties.”
He has a message for the youth of today, learned from his life experiences with the Boys & Girls Club. He says,” It’s okay to stand, okay to be different. It’s okay to be judged. When you get the opportunity to do what you want, it’s okay to fail. Your greatest failure may turn out to be your best outcome.”
Director Davis is justifiably proud of this young man. “We’ve seen such growth and leadership with Zyk. When we were in the midst of the pandemic and looking for activities for our teen group, he formed a teen panel, took their input about what programs and activities they would like, presented it to us and facilitated getting them all set up. Our teen membership rose 38 percent, largely from his efforts. He is a fine example of our desired outcomes for the youth we serve,” she said.
The Boys & Girls Club of New Iberia, one of six in the area, promotes youth development in three areas: Academic Success, Healthy Lifestyle and Good Character and Citizenship. The Club has programs that support each of these areas, for children & teens ages 6-18. The members are further grouped into ages 6-9, 10-12 and 13 –18, with each group provided with their own area to meet.
Even with separate meeting areas, the Club would still like to expand, both service and space-wise. “We have a large room we would like to build out into our teen center. We currently have a small space for them, but we can definitely use more,” said Davis.
The Covid pandemic has dwindled club numbers down to approximately 50, but Davis sees the bright side: “We’ve been able to interact with our members on a one-on-one basis more effectively, and we’re appreciated the value of those interactions.”
The Boy & Girls Club will again present their Summer Program. This eight-week youth development camp costs $25 per child, 6-18, includes all programming plus breakfast and lunch. The Club hopes to serve 75-100 children for the camp and registration begins soon. Check their website, www.bgcacadiana.com/new-iberia-club for more information about programming, donations and volunteering.