What we say when we are stuck in an elevator with someone who wants to know about the Game Loft
Our program serves young people from the ages of about 6 through high school graduation. We emphasize card games, board games and role play games, and youth understand how they will grow through those games. Games allow children to be accepted in a group and work together and accept failure and success gracefully and graciously.
We have been in operation for over 17 years, and we are in operation because we find that there are community problems to be solved. Some of these problems that we deal with have to do with kids. And they deal with the problems of rural isolation, cultural isolation, technological isolation and social isolation. And these isolations that we have found create a two class system within the community - Those who will succeed because they are not isolated and those who will fail, and those who fail, and fail consistently. Mother Teresea said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.” Poverty is not only the question of not having any money but poverty is a feeling of not having hope. Once you lose hope a young person is more prone to engage in self-destructive and anti-community activities.
So at the Game Loft we deal with these issues by not being an alternative recreation program but we are a program that loves and supports and helps the whole child. We reach out to them. For instance today we are reaching out to a young man in Brooks because he is unable to come to our programs and so we’re bringing him into Belfast so he come to the program that’s so important to him.
We are also an incubator program. We’ve found that a number of our young people, because of their isolation, have fallen behind socially and or emotionally. And we provide a program of structure and safety to help them grow up and be safe while they are doing it.
After they have reached a certain point we are an elevator program. We give them access to things that they wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise; things that help them see above their level of poverty into a level of hope and self reliance. And all the while we try to create safety, belonging and normalcy. Because if you don’t have those things you’re not able to see beyond your current problems to get to a level where you can work hard for yourself and create those things in yourself.
So let me give you a small success story about a young man we served named Ricky. Ricky came to us at about age 12. He was culturally and socially isolated. There had been a death in his family, he was less mature then some of his peers, he had an anger issue, he had very few friends and he didn’t know how to relate to people and he came here every day. We saw Ricky every day from the time he was 12 to the time he was 19. We saw him through temper tantrums and growing up and some successes and many failures and we were there for him every day and helped him every chance we could get. Ricky graduated from High School last year. He is now in the Job Corps program. He decided to pursue his lifelong interest of cooking and he’s taking the cooking class. But Job Corps has helped him tremendously. He said not only do I want to do the cooking program but after that I want to do the maintenance program so that I will have more than one option in my life and after that if I succeed I want to join the C.N.A. program so I will have three options to succeed. He said sitting at our table and looking at me, he said, “I can do this now because you believed in me for all of those times that I came to you and I needed you and now I have the strength to do it for myself” We do this because we are the GAME LOFT.