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Ballerina Misty Copeland credits Boys & Girls Clubs of America for success

American ballerina Misty Copeland said Thursday that she attributes her success in ballet to her involvement as a young girl in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Copeland, who now works as the group’s ambassador, joined CBSN on Thursday to discuss the 2021 Youth Group of the Year winner and why she believes the country’s future leaders are in the club right now.

“I wouldn’t be where I am, I wouldn’t be who I am, I wouldn’t have the opportunities that I have without my club,” Copeland told CBS News. “Just the incredible encouragement these community centers provide to kids, no matter what they become. They give them confidence building tools to be successful in the world and keep going and have a good future. “

Copeland said she joined her local Boys & Girls club at the age of seven, which she said had a big influence on her future as a ballerina. As one of six children in a single-parent family, Copeland said she and her siblings saw their club as a “home.” The dancer even took her first ballet class there at age 13, which took place on a converted basketball court.

Twenty years after that first ballet class, Copeland made history by becoming the first black woman to become a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theater. Today, Copeland is an ambassador for the club, which she says empowers children and gives them the skills to take charge of their future.

“From the situations that I grew up in, you know, being homeless for most of my youth, struggling daily, it’s that structure and that base that was built at the Boys & Girls Club that got me. have prepared to be a ballerina, ”Copeland mentioned.

Brianna P., the 2021 Youth of the Year winner, told CBS News she was incredibly shocked to receive the award and was thrilled to represent the group nationally. The 18-year-old, from the Bristol Boys & Girls Club Association in Connecticut, is currently attending Central Connecticut State University, where she said she wants to use her experience at the club to fuel a career in social work.

“I look forward to representing not only my Boys and Girls Club, but the Boys and Girls Club of America as well,” said Brianna, whose last name has not been released. “It’s such an amazing experience and honestly I couldn’t have done it without my club.”