This Out-of-School Educator Pays It Forward
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of The Soultown magazine published by Cherie Nelson-Kabba, Clubhouse Coordinator at The Clubhouse @ Redwood City Boys & Girls Club. It is republished with permission.
Kahmal London is in the business of inspiration. He spends his afternoons with Boston’s teens, providing them with space and tools to explore and create. On some days he’s teaching youth to illustrate using a stylus and a tablet, other days he’s getting them started with SCRATCH, a tool for introducing coding concepts to young people. Every day, you can find him learning right alongside Clubhouse members. The Clubhouse learning model demands that staff and mentors be dedicated to life-long learning. How can you lead by example if you’re not pushing yourself? Kahmal lives and breathes the mission. “I love seeing people push themselves to their limits,” he says. It’s no surprise that he’s currently learning how to pilot The Clubhouse’s new drone, how to play bass guitar, how to use DJ equipment, and always growing his digital illustration and animation skills.
Kahmal is uniquely qualified for his role as Clubhouse Manager. He himself was a member in his youth. He spent his time after school in the Clubhouse primarily focused on drawing, digital illustration, and animation. Also a passionate gamer, Kahmal used software to create his own games, teaching his fellow members along the way. He credits his Clubhouse experience with inspiring him to attend a four-year college. After earning his associates degree from Bunker Hill Community College in Graphic Design, he went on to earn his bachelors in animation from the renowned Massachusetts College of Art & Design (MassArt).
“My dream is to help people be creative.”
Kahmal would eventually return to The Flagship Clubhouse to pay it forward. The Flagship Clubhouse is located in the center of the Roxbury neighborhood, diverse and historic community in the geographic center of Boston, uniquely positioned to reach Boston teens. This after-school STEM learning center is one of more than 100 Clubhouses located in 19 countries providing youth with life-changing opportunities for 25 years. The Flagship Clubhouse is the site that gave way to an entire network. The Flagship and its staff often serve as a testing ground for initiatives and programs that then get distributed across The Network.
When it comes to inspiring, motivating, and energizing young people, Kahmal’s commitment is unmatched. He prides himself in first, creating a welcoming, safe space where youth can relax and feel at home. Many Clubhouse members refer to the space as a second home. Then, it’s about getting to know each individual and their interests. The Clubhouse learning model prescribes exploring your own individual passions; when people care about what they are working on, they are willing to work longer and harder, and they learn more in the process. “Sometimes, it’s about exposing young people to what’s possible.” Kahmal always makes it a point to give every new member a tour, sharing all of the tools now at their disposal. He also takes great care in curating a “project shelf,” a place for members to display their completed projects.
“Seeing a member finish a project; the effort and detail they put into it; that’s what inspires me.”