Local youth honored as inspiration for peers and their communities
Five area young people were given top billing at an annual event held to recognize outstanding young people who are part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware initiative. The youth were chosen from the membership of the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club at Hollis Park. A panel of independent judges selected the five young people as finalist for the title of “Junior Youth of the Year.”
Developed to coincide with the statewide youth organization’s annual “Youth of the Year (YOY)” campaign, the Junior YOY recognized finalists ages 9 through 12, who in their daily lives epitomize the youth development mission of Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware and are “youth destined to be great.” The finalists received medals and a special Delaware Senate Tribute from State Sen. Bryant L. Richardson and a proclamation from Mayor Genshaw and the City of Seaford.
On March 29, an event held at the Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club at Hollis Park in Seaford, recognized five young people and named the male and female who were honored with the title of “Junior Youth of the Year.” The 2017 winners are Marta N. and Nicholas R.
Western Sussex B&G Club Executive Director, Chris Couch, said the concept of the Junior YOY, is closely related to the Youth of the Year program that annually recognizes a Boys & Girls Club member between the ages of 14 and 18. This is part of a Boys & Girls Clubs of America initiative that has been celebrated since 1947.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s website, the “Youth of the Year” recognizes those young people who demonstrated values of leadership service, academic excellence and health lifestyles, and “exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.” Local Boys & Girls Clubs select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in state competitions.
State winners each receive a $5,000 scholarship, as well as a $1,000 scholarship from the Janosik Family Charitable Foundation and advance to regional competitions. Regional winners compete in New York City and have opportunity to receive an additional $10,000 renewable scholarship good for four years up to $40,000. Six youth, including five regional winners and a military winner, advance to the National Youth of the Year competition in Washington, D.C. for a chance at an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable up to $100,000 for four years. The National Youth of the Year represents all Boys & Girls Club youth.
Amber Hickman, Program Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware said the statewide competition is “very competitive,” with each of the Clubs throughout the state selecting a winner. The Junior Youth of the Year provides an opportunity for younger Club members to “begin to be groomed” for competition in the Youth of the Year.
“Members spend the better part of the school year preparing for a chance at being selected their Club’s Youth of the Year,” Hickman said. “It is a very competitive process and the members work closely with adult mentors. The program helps young people to excel academically as well as gain experience in public speaking, participate in Club and community service and develop their character and leadership skills.”
In attendance for the recent Seaford Junior Youth of the Year event was this year’s Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year, Andrez Jones, a student at Seaford High School. Jones will represent the Seaford and Laurel Clubs in the statewide competition in April which will determine the 2017 Boys & Girls Clubs of Delaware Youth of the Year. The winner will be announced at a special “Be Great Gala,” held at the World Café Live at The Queen, in Wilmington, on April 13.
Couch said the recent Jr. Youth of the Year event is a way to help usher in the annual Senior YOY proceedings, and also spotlight the achievements of the younger club member.
“Our Junior Youth of the Year program is in its second year and we are excited to make this a tradition at our Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club,” Couch said. “The purpose of our Jr. YOY is to foster the emerging leadership abilities of our young people while preparing them for later participation in the ‘senior’ Youth of the Year program. This event was all about recognizing the youth who are doing the right things in and out of our Club. Each of the Jr. YOY candidates did an outstanding job presenting their speeches and they are the shining examples of the positive attributes that our Boys & Girls Club wants to nurture in our local youth to fulfill our mission.”
During the Junior Youth of the Year event each of the six Junior Youth of the Year finalists took to the podium at the Boys & Girls Club, and shared their thoughts about “why I like the Boys & Girls Club.” Following are their presentations:
“My name is Marta. I am in the fifth grade and I am 11 years old. I admire doing schoolwork, and I am an A-B student at school. Whenever I receive honor roll for my grades my mom always does something for me. She usually takes me out for some ice-cream or takes me to the store. At school I love doing science and learning about history.
When me and my family travel I learn new things everyday but I also learn at school. I would have to agree with working together in school because I gain knowledge from others. However, when it comes to writing it’s just myself and the paper, but I do my best and use my creativity. I won a poem contest, and now I am a published author. As you can see writing is one of my favorite things to do. Creating artwork is a thing I am good at as well.
My favorite thing to draw is flowers. When I was in Kindergarten my art teacher always inspired me to draw. I’ve been drawing flowers for about 5 years now and every time I have gotten better! Being with my family is something I like to do as well. When I am with my family we usually play Uno, Skip-Bo or some other fun activities. My family has always been there for me. Sometimes I get mad at my family members but I still love them even when I’m mad! I had to change my attitude a couple of different times.
When I started going to the Boys and Girls Club I really didn´t understand anything about your behavior. I tried fitting in with several different girl groups, but I just got in trouble all the time. The minute I got in Group 4 I said ¨Hey Kaliea and Alyssa let´s hang out¨ ,so we did and we created our own positive little girl group. I found the right girls for me. Thank you Kaliea and Alyssa.
Later on I realized you have to be a leader and not a follower. I also found out the six pillars of character. The six pillars of character are trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, and citizenship. I try to use them everywhere I go. I think there should be seven pillars of character and the one that should be added is thoughtfulness. I use that when I´m at the store and at home. I got two notes from my teacher for being thoughtful.
During the time I´ve been at the Club, staff in different groups and in my group always tell me if I´m out of line or if I´m doing a great job. Overall I would like to thank Jermaine Duncan, Chris Couch, and Paul Dorey and our other generous staff. For encouraging me with this saying ‘Great Futures Start Here’.”
“Hi, my name is Nicholas and I am 11 years old. A few things that I enjoy doing are playing basketball, reading books writing, playing football, talking to my friends, and playing football. I am very good in school especially subjects like math and science, but I also enjoy playing sports like wrestling and basketball.
I have been attending the Boys and Girls Club since I was 7 years old. Over the years I have learned a lot of skills here. I have learned to be a leader and to be more social with other club members. I enjoy programs that the club offers like passport to manhood because it gives me the opportunity to learn and to talk to staff about things that upset me or make me mad. Being at the club has also given me the opportunity to help others, especially my little brother, to have an older role model to look up to. I enjoy activities that the boys and girls club offers in the summer like field trips and the science fair.
I won first place in the science fair this previous summer and it was a fun experience for me and it allowed me to spend time with my mother while we worked on it together. I can’t wait to have it again this summer coming. The Seaford Club is really a great place for me to be me.”
“Hi, my name is Alyssa and I am 12 years old and I am an honor roll student. Playing with my friends, coming to the boys and girls club, and eating food are a few things that make me happy. Playing with my friends makes me happy because I am never alone and they always make me laugh.
When I’m upset, coming to the club and seeing them always makes me happy. I also enjoy playing different games that are interesting and fun at the boys and girls club. Food makes me happy because I love food, and when I’m sad or hungry I eat and that makes me dance and feel happy! I am good at dancing, drawing, basketball, getting good grades, and making people laugh.
I have played basketball on an actual team for about 3 years now, and I continue to get better over the years. I have maintained to get all A’s from kindergarten to now. Something important that I have learned from attending the boys and girls club is to believe in yourself, and do not let other people ruin your day. Staff at the boys and girls club are always teaching us something new. It seems like I learn something new every here every day. The boys and girls club always has my back and that is why I would encourage so many others to come here.”
“Hello, my name is Kaliea and I am 11 years old. I am in middle school, and I am an honor roll student. I am proud of myself for being a leader and not a follower here at the boys and girls club. I’m a leader because I have my own style and way of doing things and that makes me happy. At the boys and girls club I like how we receive help with our homework and I like other activities that we do. I enjoy singing, dancing, cheering, and being myself. I like coming to the boys and girls club because there is a lot of different opportunities for me such as playing sports.
I love that there is always a staff member available whenever I am having a problem or a bad day that I can talk to. I have been attending the boys and girls club since I was six. I can also see how much I have grown since then. I have learned in my time here that no one can interfere with my dreams, and that only I can make them come true. When I grow up I want to be a singer, dancer, or both. I practice and work hard every day to accomplish both. The club has taught me to no let anyone alter who I am and to instead be myself and respect others. That is a major reason why I think the boys and girls club is a positive place to be.”
“I have lots of things that make me happy in school, out of school, and especially at the Boys and Girls Club. I love reading in and out of school. Reading makes me happy because I learn new words and I see realistic pictures. My family makes me happy because we get to spend time together. I like when we cook and make things together. I love my family because we always laugh together and have a good time. My big brother Kyle from the Big Brother Big Sister program always makes me happy too! I enjoy going to new places with my big brother. He teaches me lots of things like how to be a gentleman, and how to play football, basketball, and soccer. We do lots of different things together and we always have lots of fun.
I am good at many different things and always trying to get better at things. I am very good at reading and math. I am good at sports like basketball, football, and soccer. I am also good at cooking breakfast with my family. I really like to play video games and card games too and I’m very good at them.
The boys and girls club has taught me very many important lessons. I’ve learned many lessons from passport to manhood with Mr. Jeremy, Mr. Marcus, and Mr. Andrew. One lesson I learned is how to save money. All of us boys learn how to treat girls’ right. We learned not to bully people and how to report bullies to an adult if we see it. I have learned how to be a good sport and not take losing so hard.
I like lots of things about the Boys and Girls Club. I look forward to going to the Boys and Girls Club every day. I really like that I met my big brother from the Big Brother Big Sister program there and I am happy to have him. I really like all of the staff and the friends I have made at the club. I like the games we play and the staff that teach me new things. I like that Mr. Marcus plays basketball with me and he helps me with my homework. I like that Ms. Monica is funny and always makes us laugh. I have lots of fun playing the Xbox with my friends. I really like that we go outside and play every day. I like doing my homework at the Boys and Girls Club because they help me and I can concentrate there. The Boys and Girls Club is my favorite place to be.”
Pictured (left to right, back row): Boys & Girls Club Program Director, Eric Hastings, Seaford Mayor David Genshaw, Boys & Girls Club staff and youth mentors Marcus Prattis, Kyle Hastings, Monica Whitney, Jeremy Robinson, Andrez Jones, Jermane Duncan, Latoria Snead Ti’Kesha Ross, and Western Sussex B&G Club Executive Director, Chris Couch Front row (Left to right) are the finalists for Junior Youth of the Year Micheal M., Kaliea W., Nicholas R., Alyssa K. and Marta N. Photo by Tony E. Windsor
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