GREENFIELD — Whether she’s behind a desk or on the basketball court, Candace Sexton insists she’s the biggest kid at the club.
Candace Sexton has been with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hancock County for nine years this month. As the Jim Andrews unit director, she has worked to change the lives of young people in the county through a number of popular programs. They include the Character, Skills and Competition basketball program, as well as the Indiana Kids program, which helps kids struggling with math and reading.
The CSC basketball program works to build character in Hancock County youth in a way they don’t notice because they’re too busy having fun, said Sexton, who joined the club as a program director in 2007 before being moved to unit director two years later.
Story continues below gallery
“Nobody comes to the club and says, ‘I want to build my character today,’” she said.
Sexton began her career intending to be a teacher, because she always knew she wanted to work with kids, but the thought of the same routine every day put her off.
There is no typical day for the unit director at the club, she said — every day is a little bit different, presenting new challenges and opportunities to engage her charges.
She said one of her favorite things to do is shoot hoops with kids she perceives might be struggling and make a connection with them.
“What may seem insignificant to us, at this point in their lives, can be a big deal,” she said.
With that in mind, Sexton a few years ago made changes in her own life to be a better example. She had to have surgery, and was required to lose weight in order for the surgery to take place.
She worked hard with Michelle Flowers, a Greenfield personal trainer, to lose weight for the procedure but didn’t stop there — the accountability buddies kept training. They’ve since run several marathons and have plans to run this year’s Carmel Marathon.
“She started with a 14-minute-mile pace, and now she’s down to a nine- or 10-minute mile,” Flowers said.
Sexton relishes being a leader to her staff members, most of whom have been at the club for at least a year.
Staffers told her they sometimes ask themselves “What would Candace do?” or “WWCD?” for short, a nod to her leadership skills.
Sexton’s efforts to improve herself aren’t lost on her employees, said staffer Anna Leimgruber.
The biggest thing Sexton tries to remember and make clear when working with the kids who attend the club is just because they might be misbehaving, that doesn’t make them a bad person.
She said she hopes the next person to take her job feels she has set them up for success.
“I plan to be here until they scrape my name off the window,” she added.