TOPEKA – Two Kansas teens were announced at a ceremony Monday, March 9, as recipients of statewide honors and college scholarships by the Kansas Boys & Girls Club.
Alliyah Gray, Hutchinson, was selected by a panel of judges as the Kansas Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year, while Ebony Garrett of the Fort Riley Youth Center was chosen as Kansas Military Youth of the Year. The recipients were chosen from 10 candidates who came to Topeka to present their qualifications and to participate in a youth service activity—a reading activity delivered to children at Pine Ridge Prep, a Topeka Public School learning community.
The Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF) supports the Boys & Girls Clubs financially and through programs such as the Kansas Reading Roadmap, a grant-funded reading initiative. DCF is proud to participate in the selection of the Youths of the Year.
At the ceremony, DCF employee Matt Billingsley was honored as the Kansas Boys & Girls Club Board Member of the Year.
The Youth of the Year program promotes and celebrates young people’s service to their club, community and family; academic performance; moral character; and public speaking abilities. Each year, the Kansas Boys & Girls Club selects a Youth of the Year and a Military Youth of the Year to represent the organization at a regional competition. Winners from the regions then compete in Washington D.C. for National Youth of the Year.
Kansans recently claimed back-to-back National Youth of the Year honors. In 2013, Kiana Knolland, Wichita, won the national honor, which, along with a substantial scholarship, came with the opportunity to meet the President of the United States. Trei Dudley, Lawrence, the award recipient in 2012, attended this year’s ceremony to help present the awards.
Gray and Garrett will each receive a $5,000 scholarship supported by Boys & Girls Club sponsors: Disney, Toyota, Taco Bell for Teens Foundation and the University of Phoenix.
Gray will travel to Dallas on June 2, to compete for the southwest regional title. Graham will travel to San Antonio on June 25, for the Southwest Military Youth of the Year Competition.
“It’s a true honor to represent the State of Kansas as Youth of the Year, and I’m very excited to represent my community, my parents and my state at the Southwest Region competition this summer,” Gray said upon receiving her award.
First runner up for Kansas Youth of the Year was Dakisha Brooks, Topeka. The first runner up for Kansas Military Youth of the Year was Kaylen Morin, Leavenworth.
"We are extremely proud of all the young people who participated,” Government Relations Director for the Boys & Girls Club Joyce Glasscock said. “These young people have tremendous potential as leaders of our future."
The Boys & Girls Club of America includes four million members. Its mission is to enable young people to reach their full potential and become caring responsible citizens. It offers education and career programs; character and leadership programs; health and life skills training; arts programs; sports, fitness and recreation; and other specialized programs.
(left to right, Alliyah Gray, Trei Dudley, 2012 National Youth of the Year from the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Ebony Garrett)