Boys and Girls Clubs across the nation, including the club in Carter County, believe every young person has the potential to succeed and achieve greatness.

Last month, Boys and Girls Clubs of Carter County were applauded for their success and achievements at the Oklahoma State Alliance meeting.

Misty Sanders, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carter County, was named State Executive Director of the Year, and the Wilson Teen Town Unit won an award for teaching health and life skills.

Additionally, Ardmore High School sophomore Ashley Howell finished fifth in the annual state Youth of the Year competition, and received a $400 scholarship for college.

Sanders said the recent recognitions of the club are an honor. The Carter County Club reaches 1,300 youths each year through a variety of programs, in addition to club memberships.

“We are very unique. Our membership is half teens and half elementary aged,” Sanders said. “A lot of clubs reach just elementary aged. We want to reach all ages of young people.”

The club is also unique in its reach to youth. There are three units that make up the Carter County Club — Teen Town in Wilson, Hardy House Unit at Wilson Elementary School and the Ardmore Unit at the H.F.V. Wilson Community Center.

Club members come from a variety of schools, including Ardmore, Healdton, Lone Grove, Ringling, Wilson and Zaneis.

The club provides programing in the areas of education, character, health and life skills, arts and sports, fitness and recreation at each unit.

Throughout the year, club members participate in programs such as diabetes prevention, understanding healthy relationships, nutrition, environmental awareness and career services. Each day at the club, members receive homework help and engage in 60 minutes of exercise.

The club also plans service projects and volunteering activities for club members.

“Those programs are very important for what we do to make club members well-rounded and help them individually,” Sanders said.

Sanders said the club members respond well to the variety of programs and the opportunity to engage with other club members.

“The kids love to have a place to go after school,” Sanders said. “They like coming here. Many of them don’t want to go home and watch television in the afternoon. They want to come here, get their homework done and have free time.”

The unit meeting at Wilson Elementary School reaches children from age 5 through the fifth grade. The Teen Town and Ardmore units are designed for teens, ages 13 and older.

Howell, a four-year member of the Boys and Girls Club, was chosen to represent the club at the state competition in the Youth of the Year competition. To be considered for the state title, club members must write essays and complete a face-to-face interview with a panel of judges. At the Ardmore unit, Howell is known for her leadership skills, character and service to the community. In the past year, she has volunteered at the local soup kitchen, Color Me Crazy run, and Santa’s Workshop.

“Ashley is an extremely hard worker and shining example to all of our members at the Boys and Girls Club,” Sanders said.

Sanders, who received the highest honor in the state, said in addition to herself, all volunteers, mentors and staff of the Boys and Girls Club seek to inspire and enable young people to realize their full potential.

“We are making a difference,” Sanders said.

The club is currently seeking adults to volunteer to be involved in the mentoring program, which is a once-a-week commitment.

To learn more about the Boys and Girls Clubs of Carter County, call (580) 668-3115.