At Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida, Youth of the Year is the highest honor any Boys & Girls Club member can receive. Each of the 38 Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Northeast Florida nominates one Youth of the Year candidate and one Junior Youth of the Year candidate to represent their club in this competition, celebrating club members’ academic achievements, leadership abilities and communication skills.
These high school, middle school and elementary school Youth of the Year nominees have worked tirelessly over the past month to be named this year’s winner. The rigorous selection process includes personal essays and panel interviews.
The 2021 Youth of the Year winner was Michael J. from the Ed White High School Boys & Girls Club Teen Center.
Michael has represented the organization over the past year at regional Youth of the Year competitions through Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
Through the support of his Boys & Girls Club community, Michael pushed through the challenging obstacles of the last year, focusing instead on his bright future and current goals. He is currently studying sociology at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia.
“COVID-19 was not going to stop me from achieving my goals,” he said. “I kept my focus on everything that I did. I accomplished so much, such as winning the title of Mr. Ed White 2020-2021, having A/B honor roll the whole year, being recognized as student-athlete of the week, and the new title of Youth of the Year for Boys and Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida.
“Having these accomplishments taught me to never give up on my goals and to always see the bright side of things. Just because there was an obstacle in the way does not mean that you cannot overcome that obstacle.”
For 60 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Florida has enabled young people to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The 38 clubs serve more than 3,500 young people each day in Duval, St. Johns and Alachua counties.
Boys & Girls Clubs provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs during critical non-school hours and during the summer.
Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship and healthy lifestyles. Learn more at bgcnf.org.