Youth of the Year
Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, one exceptional Club member is selected to be the National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year serves as both an exemplary ambassador for Boys & Girls Club youth and as a strong voice for all of our nation’s young people. The journey to being named National Youth of the Year begins locally and progresses to the state, regional and national levels. To achieve the title of Youth of the Year on any level, Club members must embody the values of leadership and service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. They should exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.
The Youth of the Year program creates opportunities for Club youth to receive recognition at the local, state, regional and national levels. At the Club level, a Youth of the Year is selected from a pool of members who have participated in a year-round recognition program. The local Youth of the Year serves as a role model for other young people in the Club and as a representative to the community. Only one Youth of the Year from each Club organization may advance to the state level. There, one Youth is selected to represent the State at the Regional level. Finally, the five candidates named Regional Youth of the Year, along with the Military Youth of the Year, will travel to Washington, D.C., to participate in a judging process that will determine the National Youth of the Year.
At the Boys & Girls Club of Chicopee, we use the program as a platform for recognizing, cultivating and celebrating Club members’ leadership potential. Our selection process focuses on academic excellence; healthy lifestyles; and positive leadership, character & service; all three priority outcome areas that drive our Movement-wide agenda.
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“The Club has helped me in ways such as breaking out of my shell, getting school work done, and learning how to be a part of a team. I wish that every current and future member will have an experience as rewarding as mine. As a Club kid I looked up to the staff members as role models. I wanted to be able to help kids find themselves just as they helped me, so I took on the responsibility of becoming a staff member at the Club. I believe the key to success is taking initiative, so the next time you have the chance to take the extra step just do it. Step out of your comfort zone, try something new, set goals for yourself. I believe everybody is capable of being successful and the Boys & Girls Club can help anyone just as it is helping me on my journey to success. “
Tyrese Downie, 2016 Youth of the Year
“When I first started attending the Boys & Girls Club, I was in 2nd Grade. Attending an after school program was new to me. I didn’t know how to act, or even how to make friends. The Club taught me, as a young girl, how to make friends and how to act appropriately with children my age. The Club even helped me find my best friend. But, I’ve had to deal with some struggles too. Twice, I have had to distance myself from girls I thought of as friends. They were interested in experimenting with drugs and alcohol, and I was not. I tried to inform them of better choices, but the peer pressure they were facing was too strong. I ultimately cut ties with them. I still wish them well, but I knew that I wanted to be on a better path. The Club is like a second home. I think of each and every one of the Club’s staff members as part of my family.
Kiara Gonzalez, 2014 Youth of the Year
“I would also like to thank you all for everything that you have done for me throughout the past six years. The Boys & Girls Club is the only job that I have ever had and I find it absolutely heart breaking to stop working there. I have been offered internships for the past two summers, but I know in my mind that the family I have made in you guys is the best scenario for me. Whether or not I come back to work at any given time, I want you to know that I am always available if you need anything, and I will always consider myself a life time member of OUR organization!”
Malar Patal, 2006 Youth of the Year
“Every day I enjoy going to work because the kids always make me smile, no matter what mood I may be in when I walk in. Though the kids may look at me as a role model, I also think of them as my role models. They make me appreciate what I have and each and every day they remind me of things that I have forgotten about being a child. I enjoy being involved in the Club because it is a fun place where I can connect with youth.”
Laura Boisseau, 2001 Youth of the Year
“The children I work with have changed me in a way that will remain with me for the rest of my life. The best feeling in the world is knowing that you mean something to someone, or knowing that you made a positive difference in someone’s life. The Club cares for all children and gives them feelings of acceptance and usefulness.”
Diana Geoffroy, 2004 Youth of the Year
“At times I feel fortunate; in fact I feel privileged knowing that I was able to grow up in a positive environment that made an impact on my life. Sometimes I ask myself what would I have been doing if I did not attend the Boys & Girls Club. If I would have not attended the Boys & Girls Club I would have gotten into trouble and not have good grades and motivation to succeed. The fact that I have great role models in the Boys & Girls Club that have pushed me to my greatest potential, it made me become a respectable young man that has relentless motivation to become successful in life.”
Jeremy Rodriguez, 2005 Youth of the Year