Friday, 21 August 2009 10:13
As part of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s new advocacy campaign, “Be Great,” Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, actress and Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club alumna Ashanti unveiled a new billboard in Times Square on August 11, featuring her childhood picture and an inspirational message, “Be Amazing.” Ashanti joins some 25 prominent alumni in the new advocacy campaign to help increase public awareness and understanding about the key issues facing America’s youth, and the positive impact of Clubs.
From academic failure and gang violence to poverty, drugs and obesity, America’s young people face a daunting array of problems – with serious consequences and fewer safety nets at home and in the community.
According to a 2007 BGCA alumni survey conducted by Harris Interactive, 57 percent of alumni reported, “The Club saved my life,” while another 28 percent credited Boys & Girls Clubs with keeping them in school.
“Growing up in the Club gave me the opportunity to explore many interests and talents, including dancing and singing, that have profoundly influenced my life,” said Ashanti. “The adult staff at the Club in Glen Cove challenged us to excel, and instilled positive values that still influence me as an adult. It’s an honor to join our alumni ambassadors in talking about the impact Boys & Girls Clubs have on young people, because I’m one of them.”
Ashanti’s theme, “Be Amazing,” ties to her success as a performer, from a very early age. She learned to dance on the stage of Glen Cove Boys & Girls Club. Her mother, Tina Douglas, taught dance classes at the Club for 20 years. Nicknamed the “Princess of Hip Hop,” Ashanti began writing songs in high school. Her album, Ashanti, hit the #1 spot on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B charts and received a Grammy for best contemporary R&B album. She starred in such feature films as John Tucker Must Die, Coach Carter, and Resident Evil Extinction. TV credits include the Muppets Wizard of Oz, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Vegas, and American Dreams. Her book of poetry Foolish/Unfoolish is available at Hyperion Books. In 2008, she partnered with jeweler Cartier on a “Love” bracelet benefiting BGCA. Recently, Ashanti made her theatrical debut starring as “Dorothy” in the Encores! production of The Wiz.
Other Club alumni joining Ashanti in the Be Great advocacy campaign include: Academy Award-winning actor and national spokesperson for BGCA - Denzel Washington, Muhammad Ali, Swin Cash, Gen. Wesley Clark, Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Michael Jordan, Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Queen Latifah, Mario Lopez, John Mellencamp, Edward James Olmos, Shaquille O’Neal, Smokey Robinson, Jimmy Rollins, Martin Sheen, John Singleton, Ruben Studdard, Usher, Courtney Vance, Mark Wahlberg, and Kerry Washington.
“We are very excited about Ashanti joining the Be Great campaign, and her willingness to help us impact the lives of the young people who need us most,” said BGCA President and CEO Roxanne Spillett. “Her story is a textbook case of how the Boys & Girls Club experience can help shape a life, and we are so proud of all that she has accomplished, and all she will continue to do on behalf of the young people following in her footsteps.”
Ashanti will collaborate with BGCA and other alumni to urge the country’s political and business leaders to make the young people of America a priority and encourage every citizen to make a difference by supporting organizations such as Boys & Girls Clubs – ensuring that every child has a safe, supervised and structured environment during the critical after-school hours.