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On Thursday, November 13, 2014, Boys & Girls Clubs of Philadelphia and Comcast NBC Universal unveiled a newly on-site renovated facility and technology lab at the Wayne Avenue location. As a part of the festivities they also announced a five-year, multi-million dollar partnership. Boys & Girls Clubs of America President and CEO Jim Clark, BGC of Philadelphia Co-CEOs Joseph and Lisabeth Marziello, Comcast EVP David L. Cohen, and City Councilwoman Cindy Bass each gave statements on their excitement for the partnership and building update. The students of the Wayne Branch received a special treat with an appearance from American Idol winner Jordin Sparks. Sparks long standing relationship with the club and their youth, made her an obvious choice to speak at the press event. With Jordin’s engaging and lovely personality she immediately connected with the young attendees and the press.

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The event not only launched a newly renovated Boys & Girls Club but also announced the M. Future program. My.Future is a new technology program, sponsored by Comcast NBC Universal, which will teach Club members about the digital world and spark their passion for technology. The Comcast Foundation’s $100,000 grant provided the Club members with computers, tablets, smart boards, digital cameras, music studio tools, and video editing equipment, which they will use to demonstrate My.Future activities.

I had the privilege of sitting down with Jordin Sparks during the event….

Interviewer: Tiffanie Stanard (TS), Philly Speaks Producer

Interviewee: Jordin Sparks (JS), American Idol Winner/ Boys & Girls Club Ambassador.

TS: Can you tell us about your relationship with the Boys and Girls Club?

JS: Two years ago I was called in to this big event that had over 2,000 teenagers there. I got to sing, talk a little bit about education, and how setting yourself up for your future is important. That’s something that is always important to tell the youth because they are our future. I had a really great time out there and anything I can do for kids, I want to be a part of. Actually the history that I have comes from my Dad who was in a Boys and Girls club when he was younger. He says it really shaped his life and helped him stay out of trouble because he was here doing extracurricular activities and things like that. So when they called and asked me to come and talk to the kids and be a part of the Digital Literacy, I was like, “sure I would love to come.”

TS: How important is technology for you especially because you’re an actress and singer in 2014, compared to when you first started at 17?

JS: The social media age right now is very crazy. It gives me the opportunity to talk to my fans and be able to reach them on a more personal level. Sometimes it can be a little scary, but at the same time it’s great. In the past they would have to listen for announcements on the radio, or check different sites like Myspace to find out if there was a concert, Meet & Greet, or something going on. Now there are so many platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter where you can announce things. I have to be involved because that’s where my fans are. Even with working, everything is digital now. In the studio there are computers and programs like protocols. Also on a day to day basis, I’m online because I need to know what’s happening in the world in terms of current events. So often I am wrapped up in my own little corner of the page, that I need something to keep me up with what’s happening and the things I need to know. As the digital age grows, I have to grow with it.

TS: What’s your favorite type of technology to use?

JS: For me it’s just the simple Voice Note on my iPhone. When something pops in my head, I can just click it and record whatever the idea was. I would definitely say my iPhone is the one thing I always keep with me because there is so much in the palm of your hand. I can keep up with my fans via Twitter and Instagram. I can keep track of my brother with iMessaging. It’s crazy how much it [technology] has affected all of us. We are just in it and we can’t live without it.

TS: So would you say your iPhone is your favorite digital device; compared to your Laptop or iPad?

JS: I love my digital camera because I love to take pictures. As far as something that is interactive my iPhone is definitely it.

TS: What are five things people wouldn’t know about you through your on-line social accounts?

JS: The crazy thing about social media is you project what you want people to see. Perception is reality and for the most part I’d like to think that I have stayed true to who I am. Everything I post is something I would do or say. Five things people wouldn’t really know…

  1. A lot of people mention my height. I’m 5’10 but there are some sites that say I am 6’ft, which I am with heels on.
  2. I can recite the Gettysburg Address, because I memorized it in 5th grade and never forgot it.
  3. My glasses are real (I’m cross-eyed). It’s something that can’t be corrected with contacts, so I wear glasses because I see two of everything.
  4. I really do handle my own social media.
  5. I am actually involved in my charity work and I love doing stuff like this. I like being able to come and lend my voice. It’s crazy to have gone from being 17yrs old in high school to now. Sometimes I still feel like I’m there and honestly everybody needs a little encouragement. To be able to encourage people and give them that extra push is amazing.

TS: How often do you come to Philadelphia and what’s your favorite place here?

JS: I don’t get to come often, but I do come when I’m touring. The fans here are amazing. All of the concerts I’ve had here have always been so exciting. Once we were deep in the heart of the city, just walking around and it was great. Philadelphia is an amazing city to just be in. There is so much history here, and a lot of food. I’ve had some Philly Cheese steaks that were just so good. Last time I was here on tour, I went to this dog park with my friends. It honestly was really nice. What I love is you don’t feel overwhelmed here.

 

For more information on the Boys & Girls Club of America and Comcast NBC Universal partnership, please visit: www.bgca.org

Follow us on Twitter @Philly_Speaks

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