As the new year begins, we are getting excited to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of Club teens by recognizing the Youth of the Year. Club members who earn the Youth of the Year title embody the values of leadership service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. They exemplify the critical impact that Boys & Girls Clubs have on the lives of young people.
At BGCTC, we regularly recognize members ages 14 to 18 as “Youth of the Month” winners and are now ready to select a BGCTC Youth of the Year. Our BGCTC Youth of the Year Celebration is one of many Youth of the Year Celebrations taking place throughout the nation. Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state and regional Youth of the Year events. Six teens, including five regional winners and a national military youth winner, advance to the National Youth of the Year Celebration, where one outstanding young person is named Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national teen spokesperson. The National Youth of the Year is a role model, leader and advocate for over 3.6 million youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs each year, and all of America’s young people.
We are honored to introduce you to our BGCTC 2023 Youth of the Year candidates.
Anthony “Mengo” Her
Anthony “Mengo” Her is an active member of the East Side Club. He is on the varsity volleyball team and is the president of the Keystone Club! He’s worked hard to develop a nonprofit organization that focuses on opening doors for student athletes to pursue their dreams, no matter what socioeconomic background they have. He is also a youth leader at his church and is deeply involved in the East Side community. During Mengo’s time at the Club, he has found his confidence, made meaningful friendships, and began to build plans for the future
Chanel McKizzie has been attending the Southside Village Club for two years. She loves taking part in the Money Matters and Healthy Lifestyles programming at the Club and takes those skills home with her, too. She often helps younger members work on their reading skills and helped facilitate and create a beautiful mural outside the Club in Phelps Park. Chanel has found confidence in learning at her own pace and making connections with people like herself at the Club.
Makya “EJ” Butler
Makya has been attending the Jerry Gamble Club for 12 years, since she was five years old. She is a part of the Keystone Club and always leaves a positive impact on the younger Club members she interacts with. Makya works hard at academics and maintains a great balance between work and play. She has been working as a cook in the Jerry Gamble kitchen for one year and is always making sure that everyone has nutritious and delicious meals. Makya is a great leader and has plans to do big things in her future.
NeVaeh has been a Mt. Airy Club member since fourth grade- for more than two-thirds of her life! She is an active participant in Teen Pathways and Money Matters programming and balances her schoolwork, Club activities, and job gracefully. She is also the president of the Keystone Club, using her leadership skills to make decisions and be a great example for others. NeVaeh is passionate about mental health and shares her experiences with others, giving them a safe space to feel seen and know they aren’t alone.
Nomon is active at the Al Lenzmeier West Side Club as both a member and a junior staff member. She has worked hard to learn the ins and outs of the Club and is passionate about making sure everyone gets the opportunity to have a great time at the Club. She cares deeply about the younger Club members, strives for mental wellness for all, and is always there to help people break out of their shells and show their true selves. Nomon is kind, a great leader, and never shies away from a challenge.
Talaya Zarria Hughes
Talaya has been attending the Little Earth Club since she was 11 years old. Talaya is involved in all aspects of Club programming and finds inspiration from the examples set by club staff. Mental health and family bonds are incredibly important to her. Talaya works in the Little Earth community as a “Safety Champion for Safe Communities of United Tribes” and knows how important it is to be a member of a community where there are safe spaces and trust. Talaya is a vocal leader and always lifts others up with words of encouragement.
Natalia has been active in the Clubs since middle school and has been a leader ever since. She is active in Teen Pathways and Money Matters programming, was a team captain at leadership camp and is a Beacons youth instructor. She is also the president of the Black Student Union at her school and takes the lead on planning fundraisers and outings for their group. Natalia creates safe spaces for everyone around her and works hard to promote safe spaces and mental wellness and hopes to stay involved with the Clubs for years to come.
We are so inspired by all of these amazing Club teens and can’t wait to see what their futures hold. Stay tuned to find out who is named the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities Youth of the Year on Thursday, January 26! Click here to learn more about Youth of the Year.