Military Youth Kaila L. Receives Top Honor From Boys & Girls Clubs of America
Hill AFB Youth Center teen awarded $20,000 college scholarship
Washington, D.C. – Boys & Girls Clubs of America named Kaila L. the 2017 – 2018 National Military Youth of the Year in a ceremony held at the Navy Memorial Naval Heritage Center in Washington, D.C. The Hill AFB Youth Center teen will receive a $20,000 scholarship and serve as Boys & Girls Clubs of America's official advocate for military youth across the country and abroad.
To earn the Military Youth of the Year honor, Club teens who are served on military installations worldwide advance through local, state and regional competitions—demonstrating how they have made outstanding contributions to their family, school, community and Boys & Girls Clubs of America-affiliated Youth Center while overcoming personal obstacles. Kaila was one of six regional finalists selected to vie for the national honor out of the 500,000 military youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs.
“We’re honored to serve the families of our brave servicemen and women through youth development programs, and could not be more proud to welcome Kaila as the 2017 National Military Youth of the Year,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “Kaila’s story and voice will inspire the half a million military youth served by Boys & Girls Clubs on military installations world-wide, and we can’t wait to watch her many accomplishments to come.”
Kaila’s story is certain to resonate with many military children, as she experienced her father’s yearlong deployment just days before her 16th birthday and a very recent move. Though Kaila had just relocated to Utah that year, in the midst of a difficult farewell, she found solidarity at her Boys & Girls Clubs of America-affiliated Youth Center. While she struggled at times to make friends at school, Kaila made lasting friendships and found comfort in knowing others who understood her experiences as a military child.
Kaila poured herself into the Youth Center’s academic programs, tutoring younger kids with the Power Hour homework help program and serving as a mentor through the SMART Girls program. During a difficult time in her life, the organization helped Kaila thrive academically and personally.
“Despite my discomfort at my new school and struggles with anxiety, being part of my Boys & Girls Clubs of America-affiliated Youth Center created solidarity in my life,” Kaila said. “I found friends who sympathized with my experiences as a military child, and who quickly accepted me as a member of their community.”
Kaila plans to attend the University of Utah to study mechanical engineering and alternative energy specialization.
Military Youth of the Year is a component of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year recognition program for Club members. On Sept. 26, Kaila will join five other finalists from civilian Clubs to vie for the National Youth of the Year honor and scholarship. Five judges individually interview each candidate and select the national winner on the basis of scholastic achievement, community service, and leadership ability. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000.
The Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by The Walt Disney Company, who has supported Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota, Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, is dedicated to inspiring the next generations of engineers, thinkers and leaders who will help drive the American economy. Additional support is provided by University of Phoenix, a committed partner who has worked with Boys & Girls Clubs of America on many Academic Success initiatives, and the Taco Bell Foundation, Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier partner for teen empowerment.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org.
About Boys & Girls Clubs of America
For more than 150 years, Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA.org) has enabled young people most in need to achieve great futures as productive, caring, responsible citizens. Today, 4,300 Clubs serve nearly 4 million young people through Club membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in cities, towns, public housing and on Native lands throughout the country, and serve military families in BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide. They provide a safe place, caring adult mentors, fun and friendship, and high-impact youth development programs on a daily basis during critical non-school hours. Club programs promote academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles. In a Harris Survey of alumni, 54 percent said the Club saved their lives. National headquarters are located in Atlanta. Learn more at Facebook and Twitter.