2014 Benton Harbor and Michigan Youth of the Year, Jasmnika Newbern, has won the Midwest Regional Youth of the Year award. The Regional Youth of the Year award was presented by Grammy Award winner Patti LaBelle at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago, Illinois on July 23, 2014. The award came with a $10,000 scholarship from the Tupperware Brands Corporation. Jasmnika now advances to the National finals in Washington, DC on September 16, 2014.
Jasmnika credits the Boys & Girls Clubs with shaping her sense of self. "Through the staff and the other members, I learned the importance of teamwork and respect,” says Jasmnika. "I am who I am today because of the lessons I learned at the Boys & Girls Clubs. When asked what the Boys & Girls Clubs mean to me, I can only respond by saying it is growth, family, community, and most of all it is me.”
Jasmnika Newbern 2014Jasmnika was the Salutatorian of the class of 2014 at Benton Harbor High School and will be attending Michigan State University in the fall, majoring in business administration. As a member of the Club since the fifth grade, she was instrumental in creating and coordinating last year’s Peace Walk and Peace Rally. The walk was created for the last day of school, which nationally has been proven to be the most violent day for schools. "We wanted to educate and encourage students to make smart choices,” Jasmnika said of the Peace Walk.
"Jasmnika's appointment as Regional Youth of the Year reminds me of the dedicated staff and board volunteers who daily give their time, talent and treasure on behalf of the kids they serve,” says Fred Paulke, Vice-President/MW, Organizational & Executive Developmental Services, Boys & Girls Club of America. "Jasmnika embodies the best of the Benton Harbor Club! She makes us all proud.”
The mission of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor is to inspire and enable all young people, especially those who need us the most,to realize their full potential as productive, responsible and caring citizens.
Every year the Boys & Girls Clubs of America reaffirms this mission by celebrating exemplary youth in Clubs across the nation with the Youth of the Year program. The Youth of the Year journey begins locally when youth, nominated by Club staff and peers, accept the challenge to rise above their circumstances and make positive changes in their lives, Club, and community.
Jasmnika was a member of the National Honor Society with a 4.4 weighted GPA. With enough credits to graduate early, Jasmnika used some of her school hours to volunteer at Benton Harbor High School. Through the Boys & Girls Clubs, Jasmnika participated in programs that focus on outcomes in Academic Success, Character and Leadership, and Healthy Lifestyles, including Diploma to Degrees, Keystone, S.M.A.R.T. Girls, Volleyball League and Café Host.
"Before joining the Club, I had a hard time expressing myself and couldn’t find a group that I felt I fit in with,” says Jasmnika. "That all changed when I joined the Boys & Girls Clubs. The staff was welcoming, and through them and the other members I learned the importance of teamwork and respect. Dreams don’t just start at the Boys & Girls Clubs, dreams are started, dreams are created, dreams are renovated, dreams come true.”
"Jasmnika stands out as a student, leader, and advocate,” said Brian Saxton, Chief Executive Officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Benton Harbor. "We are just thrilled that Jasmnika was selected as the Midwest Regional Youth of the Year. At the awards reception, I was able to observe how Jasmnika captivates her audience to tell her story about how the Club changed the direction of her life and helped her overcome obstacles to develop the genuine poise and self-confidence she demonstrates every day. Our members and staff are so proud that we are sending one of our best to Washington, DC in September.”