An Ordinary Special Kid: Mandy Hawkins is a typical teen who enjoys spending time with friends

Published 3:30 pm Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Like many children her age, Mandy Hawkins enjoys spending time with her friends and playing sports.

Mandy is a 13-year-old who will be entering 7th grade at Keenburg Elementary school this fall. In many ways, she is a typical young teen.

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“I like to read and play soccer,” Mandy said. She enjoys reading fantasy books, and says “The Legend of Zelda” book “has to be my favorite so far.”

In addition to spending time reading and soccer, Mandy also enjoys swimming and playing with her two dogs — Reece and Sunshine.

Another thing Mandy truly enjoys is attending the Boys & Girls Club of Elizabethton, where she has been a Club member for about four years.

At the Club, Mandy said she gets to spend time with her friends — some she goes to school with as well as new friends she has made through the Club.

The Club also gives Mandy and her fellow Club members the opportunity to participate in a variety of special field trips and activities. One of her favorite recent trips was when the Club took members skating, even though she got some blisters in the process.

“A lot of people were struggling,” Mandy recalled. “You fell on your behind a lot, but you didn’t get made fun of there because everyone was new to it.”

In addition to all of the fun to be had, Mandy said the Club also helps her to do better in school. She works with staff and volunteers at the Club in the homework help and tutoring programs.

“At first, when I came to the Club all my grades were Cs and Ds, and I struggled a lot,” Mandy said. “Now that I’ve been coming to the Club all my grades are 99s and 100s.”

While Mandy enjoys learning any subject, like many students she definitely has one she likes better than the others.

“Math is my most favorite because that is the one I’m best at,” she said.

In addition to helping with her grades, the Club also recently provided Mandy with the opportunity to step outside her comfort zone to gain some essential skills. She recently spoke in front of a packed house at the Club’s Steak ‘n’ Burger, a major fundraising event, where she talked about her experience at the Club.

Before the event, Mandy said she was “extremely nervous” about speaking in front of such a large group, but it turned into an enjoyable experience for her.

“I really enjoyed getting to talk to some of the people at my table. When I went up there, I was scared and extremely nervous, and I thought I’d mess up a lot,” Mandy said. “When I got up there, I realized that these people want to listen to me and they want to hear me do a good job, and that helped me feel better.”

“And when I went back to my table, they applauded me,” she added. “It made me a little more nervous, but it also made me really happy.”

Mandy said she would encourage other kids to give the Boys & Girls Club a shot because it will help them like it helped her.

“Sometimes it’s really nerve-wracking to come to a new place where there’s a lot of kids, but everyone tries to make you feel welcome,” she said.

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series the Elizabethton Star is launching to highlight some of the children in our community. To recommend a child, contact the Elizabethton Star at or at 423-542-4151.