White Sands Missile Range teens were recently recognized for doing what they do best, using their phones.
Reina Marquez, interim Middle School and Teen center director, said she asked the teens at the center to participate in a military-wide competition where they were asked to try an app called “Operation Reach,” created by the Boys and Girls Club of America, and provide feedback to the organization. WSMR MST was selected from across all military services in every installation throughout the United States and overseas.
“I never thought we would win because we have such a small population,” Marquez said. “I thought they’d pick a bigger installation.”
The app allows military teens to create their own characters who need to come together to solve real-world issues.
Marquez said the teens had to provide a description of the character they initially developed by answering questions, all of which touched on every aspect of being a military child, she said.
The app was piloted in 500 sites and later to all affiliated military youth centers.
According to Glenda Smart, BGCA Military Operations Coordinator, the app has been downloaded by nearly 2,000 teens. She said in 2017 the app will come with additional tools and resources.
As the winners, Marquez and four teens, who are also members of the Keystone Club, will receive an all-expense paid trip to the 2017 National Keystone Heritage Conference in Chicago.
“We just had to get the kids to download the app, try it out and give feedback,” Marquez said.
The BGCA hosts the annual National Keystone Conference, which they describe as a character and leadership development conference for BGCA teens, bringing together members from all across the globe. The goal of the conference is to allow Keystone members to engage and socialize with peers, explore relevant issues and develop skills to support and enhance efforts in their local BGCA and communities.
THE BGCA website describes the Keystone Club as a unique leadership development experience that provides opportunities for young people ages 14 to 18. Club members participate in activities with three focus areas: academic success, career preparation and community service.
Marquez said she assumed the prize would go to an installation that had the highest amount of participation.
Smart said the app was developed in partnership with the United Health Foundations to help military children with resiliency and integration. She said there was a series of criteria the center had to meet in order to qualify to win the prize.
“We wanted to ensure that military-connected youth had access to programs that also promotes positive family interactions,” Smart said.
To download the app visit your app store and type in “Operation Reach.”