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Newsroom Boys & Girls Club Announces State Youth of the Year

TOPEKA – Two Kansas teens were announced at a ceremony Monday, March 1, in Topeka, as recipients of statewide honors and college scholarships presented by the Kansas Boys & Girls Club.

Jazmyne McNair, Lawrence, was selected by a panel of judges as the Kansas Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year. Essence Carter, Ft. Riley, was named Kansas Military Youth of the Year.

The recipients were chosen from nine candidates who came to Topeka to present their qualifications and to participate in a youth service project. This year’s project involved reading activities 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 Youth of the Year. DCF staff members, including Deputy Secretary of Family Services Jaime Rogers, was one of the judges.

“The finalists are a group of tremendous young people, with compelling and inspirational stories of overcoming odds to achieve great things,” Deputy Secretary Rogers said. 

Peyton Peterson was first runner up for Youth of the Year. He was selected as the Manhattan Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year. The first runner up for Kansas Military Youth of the Year was Jarius Brown, Ft. Leavenworth.

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.

The winners were announced at Topeka Civic Theatre based upon the results of presentations, speeches and interviews. 

The Kansas Youth of the Year winner and Military winners each receive a $5,000 scholarship supported by Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national Youth of the Year sponsors:  Disney, Toyota, University of Phoenix and Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. They also each received $500 from the “Kansas Alliance Leadership Award,” sponsored by Devine, Donley & Murray that recognizes their commitment to academics, leadership and community service.

Carter will travel to San Antonio on June 2, to compete for the regional Southwest Military Youth of the Year honor. McNair advances to the southwest regional competition for traditional clubs in Dallas on June 20. Regional winners advance to a national competition in Washington D.C. next fall.

“The Youth of the Year event showcases the best that youth have to offer and makes us realize the tremendous importance of helping them secure positive futures,” Government Relations Director for the Boys & Girls Club Joyce Glasscock said. “Finalists are truly powerful examples of what the Boys & Girls Club movement empowers youth to achieve.”

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: Essence Carter, Military Youth of the Year, Fort Riley Youth Services; Jon Sefel, event emcee, Club alum and theater director at Cowley College; Jazmyne McNair, Kansas Youth of the Year, Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence)​