Sometimes when one door is locked another opens. That was literally the case for Kimberly Heard, a Barksdale Boys & Girls Club member, who first came to the Club after she lost the keys to her house and needed a safe place to go after school.
That day, a Club staff member, Ms. Ayava, saw Kimberly sitting quietly in a corner with her notebook and asked a simple question: “Do you like writing?” She did. By the end of the evening, Kimberly had written and submitted two poems for an anthology of poems and artwork from some of the best and brightest artists from Boys & Girls Club members across metro Atlanta.
Kimberly had anxiety in social situations, and a fear of engaging with others, particularly teachers. She says participating in arts programs at her Club helped her connect with her feelings and come out of her shell. These programs have helped her find the leader within. Today, she’s a courageous leader who has received the honor of Youth of the Year multiple times since joining her Club in 2016.
Her participation in CareerBound, a career readiness program, and Money Matters, which teaches kids the principles of saving money, helped Kimberly broaden her horizons. She says the Keystone service and leadership program for high school students has taught her the value of giving back and making good choices.
Through Keystone, she learned to embrace connections with others, stand up for herself, and to present as a leader. At the Club, Kimberly enjoys going “to the other side of the building” to help take care of the smaller kids.
The Club is like a second family to her.
Kimberly wants to advocate for kids who are under-represented, and improve the standard of equality in America. If she could change one thing in the world, it would be “improving the access of information in communities.”
“If there was more information on life beyond college, I feel like the success rate for students would be higher, but also the happiness of both students and adults.”
Kimberly, a graduating senior, has big dreams after high school. She wants to go to a four-year college and study aerospace engineering.
“I aspire to be an aerospace engineer. Space is so fascinating to me; I want to be a part of the reason why we learn more about both ourselves as species, and the world around us.”