Do not let Sunday be taken from you. If your soul has no Sunday, it becomes an orphan.
If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.
Since its beginnings over 150 years ago, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) has remained focused on boosting Club members’ social and academic skills, physical health, and creativity. BGCA activities also focus on building strong character and leadership skills to ensure that youth grow into caring, responsible, and productive adults.
In recognition of Club teens who demonstrate outstanding leadership and a solid commitment to Club principles, BGCA oversees an annual Youth of the Year program. Recently, the organization named its 2018-19 National Youth of the Year during a ceremony in Washington, DC. The event represented the culmination of a yearlong process comprising local, state, and regional competitions to select BGCA’s top youth representatives. Read on to learn about the process and find out more about the National Youth of the Year winner and finalists.
Introducing the National Youth of the Year Program
Established in 1947, Youth of the Year has grown from a local grassroots initiative into a comprehensive leadership program implemented in Clubs nationwide. In addition to the National Youth of the Year component, the program features Youth of the Month activities, which build and recognize leadership capabilities among local Club members. The program also includes Junior Youth of the Year, a national initiative designed to develop junior leaders aged 10-13 while preparing them for later participation in the main Youth of the Year competitions and activities.
Today, thousands of Club teens participate in Youth of the Year for a chance to represent their local Club, state, and region. To become a representative at any level, Club members must demonstrate not only exceptional leadership skills but also a commitment to academic excellence, community service, and a healthy lifestyle. The title of National Youth of the Year comes with prizes and a substantial college scholarship as well as the prestige of representing 4 million Club members as BGCA’s official teen spokesperson.
Meet the 2018-19 National Youth of the Year Finalists
Each year, the six National Youth of the Year finalists include the winners from five US regions as well as BCGA-affiliated Youth Centers on military installations around the world. Here’s a quick introduction to each of the outstanding young men and women who earned recognition as 2018-19 Youth of the Year finalists:
– Cynthia A., 17
A high school senior associated with Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago, Cynthia has been a BGCA member since 2008. She was named the 2018-19 Midwest Youth of the Year. Her accomplishments include establishing an anti-bullying program she called MY VOICE. Cynthia plans to attend the University of Missouri-Kansas City in the hopes of becoming a doctor.
– Jeramiah L., 16
The Northeast Youth of the Year and a member of Boys & Girls Club of Allentown, Pennsylvania, Jeramiah has been participating in BGCA since he was 5 years old. He currently works in his Club’s literacy program and has a passion for healthy living. After graduating, the high school senior plans to attend Lehigh University in pursuit of a psychiatry degree.
– Jeniya M., 16
Jeniya, the Pacific Youth of the Year, has been a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake since 2006. At his Club, he mentors younger members and focuses on building their character and leadership skills. His plans after graduating from high school include attending the University of Utah as an engineering student.
– Hannah M., 18
The 2018-19 Southeast Youth of the Year, Hannah has been a BGCA member for 12 years. She attends the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, Tennessee, where she has focused much of her attention on helping her community and fellow Club members. Hannah is currently a college freshman studying occupational therapy at the University of Tennessee.
– Malachi H., 18
Colorado State University freshman Malachi is the 2018-19 Southwest Youth of the Year. He is a 12-year BGCA member affiliated with Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Colorado. His activities at the Club include creating a literacy-focused tutoring program called Double Trouble. After graduating with a degree in kinesiology, Malachi hopes to launch a career in sports medicine.
– Ryan W., 18
As BGCA’s 2018-19 National Military Youth of the Year and Overseas Military Youth of the Year, Ryan is the top teen leader from BGCA-affiliated youth centers on military installations. The high school senior is a member of the NSA Singapore Child and Youth Programs and has been recognized for her service to the local youth and US military community. Ryan plans to attend New York University in pursuit of a photojournalism degree.
And the Winner Is . . .
On September 25, 2018, BGCA representatives and partners joined government leaders, community supporters, and celebrity Club alumni at the National Building Museum to honor Malachi H. as the 2018-19 BGCA National Youth of the Year. Along with the up to $45,000 in scholarship money he received as a regional finalist, Malachi was awarded an additional $25,000 in scholarships that can be renewed yearly for four years. He also received a trip to Walt Disney World and a brand-new car from Toyota. In winning the prestigious award, Malachi joins a long list of previous Youth of the Year winners who have gone on to attain success in various industries.
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