Youth of the Year
Youth of the Year
The Black Canyon Boys & Girls Club (BCBGC) became the big 2-0 in 2019. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the Club has partnered with the Montrose Daily Press on a special project; to bring to the readers of the Press an article each week to highlight various aspects of the Club and show the impact it has had in Montrose & Olathe. The readers will get insight from current parents, former Club kids, current Club kids, past Club staff, and more. So join us each week as we show why “Great Futures Start Here!”
Last week I got the chance to see something pretty amazing and it is just one of the many reasons being part of a Boys & Girls Club is an important part of youth development. In a crowded room of 200 people, Athena, a Club kid from Salida, stood up, walked to the podium, took a few deep breaths, and started her speech. She recalled her first grade teacher sending her to the principal’s office quite frequently for not listening to the teacher. She was already labeled a trouble maker at a very young age. Athena didn’t have too many friends in school and she said people were embarrassed to be seen with her. What she didn’t know at the time was her hearing was slowing deteriorating. That is around the same time she became part of a Boys & Girls Club. From the start, she was accepted for who she is. In fact, later on in her Club tenure, she asked if she could run a program for the youth and got the approval. That program was to teach her fellow Club kids about sign language. When her moving speech was complete, she taught the audience to sign a few words.
Youth of the Year is a very big deal within the Boys & Girls Club. It is the best of the best from each Club coming together and telling their story about how the Club shaped them as a person and helped them. Each Club nominates one Youth of the Year from its local Club to vie for State Youth of the Year. The requirements to apply for Youth of the Year is you have to be a junior or senior high school-aged Club kid or junior staff member who has been part of your local Club for two years. You have to have good grades, complete an essay, go through an interview process, and, finally, just like Athena, give a speech in front of a room of Club associates. Athena was chosen to represent the Clubs of Colorado at the Regional level. For winning Youth of the Year at the State level, she was granted a $5,000 scholarship. She will now move on to the Regional level after which, if she is chosen to move forward, she will compete at the National level. Last year, another Colorado Club kid, Malachi from the Boettcher Club in Denver, took home the National Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year title. He won a Toyota vehicle, $145,000 in scholarships, and a paid trip to Disneyworld for his outstanding contributions and representation of what it means to be a Club kid. We have our fingers crossed for Athena to bring home the National title back to Colorado for a second year in a row.
Club is a place to develop our youth. I heard other stories besides Athena’s that day. Heartbreaking tales of homelessness, broken homes, absent parents, and many other struggles but each kid noted the Club has helped them overcome these obstacles to be the inspirational person they are today. Like keynote speaker, Jared Polis, stated, “even if you don’t win, you are already set up to be a leader in life” just from being a part of the Club.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, check out www.bgca.org.
Bud Taylor is the Executive Director for the Black Canyon Boys & Girls Club (BCBGC) and had been for the past two years. Prior to that, he was a BCBGC kid, junior staff member, and board director. Feel free to contact Bud Taylor by e-mail at email@example.com or visit the Club’s website for more information, www.bcbgc.org.