What Is The Youth Of The Year Program?

The Youth of the Year program is  Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club teens. 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.

Support Our Youth Of The Year Program!

Become A Youth Of The Year Supporter Today!

Youth who compete to win the local, state and national Youth of the Year title, incur various expenses such as: professional attire, travel expenses, etc. What better way to support our future leaders than to be able to provide financial support to help them overcome any obstacles that may stand in their way!

 

Did You Know?

In 2017, our club members, staff and corporate office staff teamed together to sponsor Chris Blue, our 2017 YOY.

We teamed together to cover his travel expenses and purchased new professional attire for him, for public speaking engagements and for the Youth of the Year state competition.

Who Is Chris Blue?

Chris Blue was born and raised in the Flint Hill area of Henderson, NC - one of the most dangerous and impoverished areas in Vance County. Growing up, Chris’ parents often sheltered him from the dangers of his community. Chris recalls his mother and father missing meals and sacrificing many things, so that he could be protected and ultimately become successful. “Growing up in Flint Hill, the biggest expectations from that area are that kids will grow up to sell drugs, be uneducated and possibly shot and killed. As a child, you weren’t aware that the things going on around you were ‘so bad’ because everyone was doing it.” He recalls losing a peer who would have been his age, but because he got caught up in the environment - his life was taken too soon. “My mom never wanted me to succumb to the negativity around us. When I became older and was able to understand what was happening around me, I made a vow to live a straight-edge lifestyle, vowing to never smoke or drink.”

Chris grew up as a shy and very quiet kid. “Because I didn’t conform to what was going on around me, I often got bullied. My place of refuge (his uniqueness) was ridiculed and hit with negative words by my peers.” When asked “what changed you?” Chris replied “I know this is going to sound ‘cookie-cutter’ but my life (and fate) changed when I joined the Boys & Girls Clubs at age 6.”  He recalled his early years at the club, meeting his now mentor, “Ms. E.” (Evelyn Taylor) and meeting other members who were different, like him. “Everyone had a story. People came from different hardships and some members had stories that were similar to mine.” It was at the club that Chris was able to interact with others and found himself slowly coming out of his shell.
“The club sparked a wave of confidence in me. I became more charismatic, started to talk a lot, and began doing things that were out of the ordinary - breaking the stereotype of what it means to be a young black male from Henderson.” He recalls a time in middle school where his peers were all deciding to go to Southern Vance High School; “Everyone wanted to go there, but I chose to go to the Early College, and to be honest, it was the best decision I ever made.”

Being Youth Of The Year

“I believe Chris won our local Youth of the Year competition because he was one of our best examples of a well-rounded member - active in all programs, a leader amongst his peers, always has great attendance, and is a mentor to our younger members.” - Ms. E.

 Chris became the North Central North Carolina Region’s Youth of the Year in January 2016. “Being at the club, I noticed other members who struggle, like I did… trying to discover who they are and not blossoming into their creativity.” He mentions his passion for wanting to help others as the reason behind him applying for the role. Chris’ YOY platform was all about embracing who you are and not being afraid of the consequences that come with being different. “I see peers who have amazing, but hidden, talents. They often hide their talents because they are afraid of being ridiculed. When I am at the clubs, especially as Youth of the Year, I encourage my fellow members to let their creativity shine. I ask them to share their talents and abilities with me - especially the younger members.” Chris enjoys the leadership and ‘role model’ responsibilities that come with being Youth of the Year. “When you think of Boys & Girls Club, you think of our color blue. Chris is BLUE - He is what Boys & Girls Clubs stand for.” -E.Taylor

Since becoming the Youth of the Year, Chris has been exposed to various opportunities, many that were a first time experience for him. He has had the opportunity to visit places like Asheville, Atlanta, even to Raleigh. Earlier in the year he had the opportunity to compete in Asheville, NC at the state-wide competition for the title of North Carolina’s Youth of the Year. Although Chris did not move on as a finalist, he gained a lot of valuable experience, just by making it that far. “I loved going to Asheville, as I had never been to the mountains before. When we arrived we stayed at a hotel and my room had two beds. I had never experienced that before, either. I remember asking Ms. E ’are both of these beds mine?’ She laughed and replied ’yes Chris, they’re both yours for the weekend. Even something that simple became a new experience for me. I joked and responded ’well one night I will sleep on this bed, and the other night I will sleep on this bed!’”
In April, Chris had the opportunity to participate in the Governor’s Page Program in Raleigh. There, he met the Governor and several other political officials. “We learned about economics and got to see how laws are made. It was a really neat experience.” During that month he also took a cultural leadership trip to Atlanta where he visited several historically black colleges and universities, such as Clark Atlanta University, Spelman, and Morehouse. He shared that the most rewarding part of this experience was being able to visit the Civil Rights Museum to learn more about the history of African Americans. “It empowered me to seek change. Travelling to these different places made me realize that Henderson is just a small dot on a larger map. Being from Henderson should not be seen as a negative thing. People from Henderson can go anywhere, do anything, and be anyone they aspire to become. I have learned that being from Henderson is what you make of it, and I am choosing to leave my mark and model change for our youth.”

What Is Your Message To Others?

“When someone questions ‘Who is Chris Blue?’ I want others to be able to say ‘Christopher Blue is someone who believes in having a growing mindset, and knows the value of hard work.’ Growing up in the clubs I learned that I enjoyed being different and how much of a strength that was, rather than an expected weakness. I had to learn that I could not focus on my failures; I had to concentrate on the steps that were necessary to succeed. I had to believe that I had the ability to get better and to always take steps to improve no matter how great or small those steps were. It is this mindset, ‘a growing mindset’ that I believe will inspire today’s youth to do great things and become great leaders.
I believe that regardless of the situation you are in, hard work is always the answer. It’s like basic science – to move you need a pushing force. Having this mindset can turn academically failing students into the next doctors, lawyers or maybe even dentists, like me!”