THE PLAYERS partnership with Boys & Girls Club helps local kids, teens reach their full potential

One of the biggest sporting events of the year, in our area, is coming to a close: THE PLAYERS Championship.

But the money raised is a gift that helps to build stronger communities, year-round.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole shows us one of the organizations that partners with THE PLAYERS Championship and how the money is helping to prepare our young people for their bright futures.

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“When I first came to the Boys and Girls Club, I was very shy, very closed off, had a lot of social anxiety,” Laniya said.

As Laniya kept going to the Boys and Girls Club Teen Center at Ed White High School, she slowly began to come out of her shell.

“I made a lot of new friends and I basically grew to become a leader,” Laniya explained to Cole.

The high school senior is also the 2022 Youth of the Year, which is the highest honor any Boys & Girls Club member can receive.

“It honestly made me realize that anybody in this area, in this community, is capable of anything,” said Laniya.

She told Cole it boosted her confidence to another level. But, she also said none of it would have been possible without Ms. Natasha Skipper.

“We have kids that really sometimes are not involved in anything. So we have to empower them and help them believe in themselves,” Skipper said passionately.

“I was the quiet friend of the group. I didn’t talk much. And she was like, you know, you are a leader,” Laniya shared.

“When I remember Laniya saying, ‘I can do it Ms. Skipper’ and she started doing it. It made me say, this is what I wanna do. This is why I decided to be a Director for The Boys and Girls Club,” Skipper said.

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This is her fifth year with the agency. She says it’s her passion for youth that keeps her motivated in her role.

“This is something God put into my soul years ago and I’ve always been invested in children – especially teens,” Skipper said.

Support from THE PLAYERS Championship allows for even more young people to begin to believe in themselves and the exciting possibilities of their future.

For example, THE PLAYERS Championship played a pivotal role in making sure the St. Augustine Club ‘Boys and Girls Club’ became a reality. They donated $750,000 of seed money to build it. One hundred young people are served there every day.

They also partner with the Boys and Girls Club in many other ways throughout the year.

“From the funding aspect — I really believe that we couldn’t do anything we do without THE PLAYERS Championship, Kids Hope Alliance, 21st Century. We have some amazing funders that pour into our youth. Without them, there is no way. None of the work we would do would be possible,” Skipper said.

Work that has Laniya ready to be the same type of positive example, that helped change her life.

“My biggest goal is making it known that it’s possible for anyone in the school to get into a position where they are getting granted scholarships, they are making a difference in their community. You can get there!” Laniya exclaimed.