Hello everyone. My name is Talia and I am one of the 2017 candidates for Youth of the Year. If I could use one word to describe my Boys & Girls Clubs experience, it would be “nurturing.” I’ve been a part of the Boys & Girls Clubs family for over three years. However, I couldn’t imagine having a better or stronger relationship with any other place. Being in this environment has had a huge impact on my academics, personal development, and leadership development. It’s appropriate to say that the Boys & Girls Clubs has challenged me to be the best person I can be.
The best feeling is knowing that someone thinks so highly of me and continuously speaks positivity into my life. Every time there is an activity or a challenge for the members, the staff wouldn’t even hesitate to put me to the task. I love participating and having my voice heard throughout the Club and thanks to the relationships with the staff and other members, I can properly do so. Everyone treats me as if I am one of their own, and realistically I am, because we are a family! They have encouraged me at some of my lowest points and reassured me that my potential to go far is endless. I am viewed as a leader amongst the other Club members, and they don’t hesitate to ask me for my advice. Now, that’s huge, and I’m honored to share my experiences with them.
In the eyes of my peers, my community and (eventually) the world, I strive to give an image of a role model. The Club provides countless ways to be active outside of the building. I have been many places, such as an overnight stay in Kentucky and dozens of college tours. I have participated in volunteer projects like Feeding America, Pet Therapy, Dress 4 Career, and serving the community by distributing Thanksgiving meals. All of these things remind me that I have a community to represent.
I take advantage of every program within the Club, especially the Triple Play program that allows me to be physically active. The program that has helped me the most would have to be Ladies First. The Ladies First program helps to empower and support us as we transition from young girls to young ladies.
My solution to one of the problems that faces youth today is confidence. I want the youth to understand the importance of letting their personalities form naturally, and not what they see on the T.V. or internet. I don’t want social media to consume our lives so much that we believe we are supposed to live up to the standards of others. We set our own standards. We are the products of our environment and I want my peers to realize that we can be absolutely anything we set our minds to.
Especially for the young ladies that I interact with daily—we are beautiful, smart, outgoing, and determined to be the best. No one can take that from us. We must walk and speak confidently about ourselves and realize the importance of respecting ourselves first.