• Exceptional Fort Walton Beach Teen Named 'Youth of the Year' by Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast

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    April 22, 2020
    Selected among numerous outstanding youth, Jacinda Rassa has been named the Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle. Now in its 73rd year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. Jacinda will go on to contend for the Florida Youth of the Year title and a $2,500 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

    “To see Jacinda Rassa chosen as the 2020 Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year was a very proud moment,” Bertram Little, director of operations for the BGCEC, said. “I have had the pleasure of watching her grow from a very shy, quiet and reticent pre-teen to the driven, creative and determined community minded leader she is today. Jacinda displays fully what the Boys & Girls Clubs movement is all about. The growth and development she has accomplished has me overjoyed that she will represent BGCEC well at the state-wide competition.”

    When Jacinda is not lending a helping hand to the staff and her fellow members, you can find her taking advantage of the many programs the BGCEC has to offer. Her involvement over the last four years with the Keystone Club, including serving as president, has been instrumental in her leadership development. Keystone Club is a teen group dedicated to leadership and community service. Jacinda is always the first one to sign up for community service or volunteer opportunities. In the wake of Hurricane Michael, she worked with other Club members to make and distribute hygiene kits to families affected by the storm. After graduation, Jacinda plans to attend Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla., and then transfer to the University of Florida.

    “The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast provides an amazing support system that has allowed me to serve in leadership roles I wouldn’t have been able to experience anywhere else,” Jacinda said. “My time with the Club has truly changed my life for the better by allowing me to express myself while giving back to my community. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for me as a leader.”

    This year’s Florida State Youth of the Year Competition will be hosted virtually by the BGC on May 15. Jacinda will be one of 26 nominees from throughout the state, ages 14-to-18, who will be recognized. Each nominee will give a speech to illustrate how they have turned their aspirations into actions and overcome personal obstacles to achieve success. The winner will compete for the title of the Southeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $20,000 college scholarship. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in fall 2020, to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $50,000.

    Boys and Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast also names a Junior Youth of the Year and this year's recipient is Camille A. Manzie. Camille is a 9-year-old member of the Fort Walton Beach Youth Club. She is the president of the Torch Club, which engages 4th and 5th graders in community initiatives. One of Manzie favorite activities at the Club is going to the gym where she can play games and exercise to stay healthy. She was previously a part of the junior-staff program that involves keeping the Club clean and working with the kindergarten group. Manzie is very active in her church community where she participates in the youth group and enjoys praise dancing. A fan of Judy Hopps from Zootopia, Camille says she just wants to make the world a better place.

    The Youth of the Year program is supported by Toyota. As a Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, Toyota is committed to partnering with Boys & Girls Clubs of America to ensure local Clubs provide life enhancing opportunities for kids and teens to explore, develop and apply the essential skills they need to be successful in life and work. Youth of the Year representatives are the workforce leaders, innovators and problem-solvers of tomorrow. 

    For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org
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