Inspiring Teens Meet in Seattle for 2014 Youth of the Year Conference

On Wednesday March 19th, The Boys and Girls Clubs of Washington State honored 14 exceptional youth, representing more than 78,000 Washington State Club Members from 19 organizations during the annual Youth of the Year (YOY) Event. The finalists were selected based on 9 key areas; Home and Family, Moral Character, Community, School, Service to Club, Life Goals, Obstacles Overcome, Essays, Poise and Public Speaking. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Bellevue made it into the top 6 and the two winners were from South Puget Sound and the Kitsap Naval Base. Congrats to Tae McKenzie and Bailey Dabney!

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Tae, the Traditional YOY winner, has been a club kid for 11 years, she is a member of the Student Voice for Harassment Intimidation and Bullying Committee and is a part of her church dance team. Tae hopes to attend the University of Southern California with plans to start her own Image Consulting Firm. The winner of the Military Base YOY, Bailey Dabney of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Kitsap Naval Base is the captain of her soccer team, a Sunday school assistant teacher, and plans to attend the University of Florida with the goal of working with Autistic Children. Although Natasha, Bellevue’s YOY, didn’t win the official YOY title, she won in experience. Natasha is an exceptional leader who started a feminist group at her high school, is an intern at Microsoft, and plans to attend the University of Washington next year with a major in International Business. You go girl!

It’s hard to say there were only two winners on Wednesday. The room was filled with aspiring marine biologists, cardio vascular surgeons, drug and alcohol counselors, business owners, and so much more. Raised in alcoholic households or by Guatemalan immigrant grandparents, these teens have relied on the Boys and Girls Clubs to overcome adversity and strengthen their instinctual leadership skills.

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