Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. This program promotes service to Club, community & family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals, and poise & public speaking ability. Local Clubs recognize members ages 14 to 18 as Youth of the Month winners and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in the state competition.
The journey to being named National Youth of the Year begins locally and progresses to state, regional and national levels, with an additional military phase for members of BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations.
"The youth of the year program is our most storied and impactful program throughout the year, the journey and process really showcase how far our members have come within our mission. Judges always share with us how difficult the decisions are because all candidates are so deserving. We are honored to have Jamiah represent our organization in the statewide competition and as an ambassador of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast." - Shervin Rassa, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast
”The Junior Youth of the Year program gives younger Club Members the training and practice they need to develop their leadership skills. The program cultivates junior leaders, giving them the foundation they need for more advanced leadership development, as well as for academic excellence. It is a prerequisite to the Youth of the Year program. Ja’liyah not only represents her Club but also our Organization as a youth ambassador and will look to participate in the Youth of the Year program as she gets older.” - Anthony Lanier, Director of Club Operations, Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast
Both Jamiah and Ja'liyah have already made significant impacts by serving as the youth judges for the 3rd Annual Mac & Cheese Festival benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. See the photo on the right, which shows all of the 3rd Annual Mac & Cheese Festival judges (left to right) Michael Emigh, Brooke Skalla, Shervin Rassa (BGCEC CEO), Jamiah D., Ken Sheyka, Lori Leath Smith, and Ja'liyah B.
Each year, one exceptional young person from a Boys & Girls Club rises to the role of 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 Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast is a registered IRS 501(c)3 charity whose mission is to promote and enhance the development of boys and girls by instilling a sense of competence, usefulness, belonging, and influence through its programs focused on academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. The Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast receives funding from contributions, special events, grants, and major donors such as Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and United Way agencies in Escambia and Okaloosa/Walton Counties.