The board and staff of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota hosted its 2021 Youth of the Year event virtually on February 9, 2021 to recognize three outstanding youth members, Southside Youth of the Year Shukri Abdi, Eastside Youth of the Year Maya Shimabukuro-King and Roosevelt Youth of the Year Kanye Swap. Maya Shimabukuro-King was selected as the 2021 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota and will go on to compete at the state level for the opportunity to win a $20,000 Home Team Scholarship award.
Youth of the Year is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier recognition program, celebrating the extraordinary achievements of Club members. Each year, our local Boys & Girls Club selects one exceptional young person as Youth of the Year. This youth becomes our organization’s official ambassador and shares their story of how the Club has impacted their life throughout the community. The Youth of the Year goes on to compete in the state event for additional scholarship dollars. Beyond the state level, 5 regional youth are selected, and 1 national youth of the year goes on to represent Boys & Girls Clubs of America and is installed by the President of the United States.
At the local Youth of the Year event, the youth candidate shared their testimonials of how the Boys & Girls Club has made a positive impact on their lives.
Southside Youth of the Year Shukri Abdi is currently in 11th grade at Tech High School. Shukri moved here from Atlanta a few years ago. She struggled at first in this new environment. Then she found the Boys & Girls Club in 2017. Here, she made friends and developed positive relationships with Club staff. Shukri has participated in numerous academic success programs, including CareerSTART. She said that CareerSTART exposure trips to CentraCare and St. Cloud Technical College’s nursing program solidified her desire to enter the nursing field. At this point, she is open to exploring multiple areas of nursing, and she is keeping her options open for post-secondary schools.
“The staff have helped me with my homework every day during distance learning,” said Shukri. “I like how nice and respectful they all are!”
Eastside Youth of the Year Maya Shimabukuro-King is currently in 10th grade at Tech High School. Maya’s 10-year membership at the Boys & Girls Club has taught her many valuable leadership skills that she utilizes in the Club, school and her involvement in the community. Maya has participated in SMART Girls, Date SMART, CareerSTART, dance, fashion and academic success programs at the Club that have instilled in her a strong desire to support others in their personal growth. She volunteers at the Club regularly as a positive role model and activity leader. Last year, Maya received the Central Minnesota Optimist Youth Appreciation Award for her contributions to Club and community.
“The Club has always been like a second family to me,” said Maya. “There’s no other place like it.”
Roosevelt Youth of the Year Kanye Swap is currently in 10th grade at Apollo High School. He has been a member of the Boys & Girls Club for about 10 years and has been an active participant in many Club programs, including: CareerSTART, Date SMART, Career Launch, Passport to Manhood, Money Matters, IT programs and Junior Staff. Kanye has been involved in serving in the community since a very young age, actively volunteering for food drives. He also participates in baseball and wrestling at school. Kanye currently has a 3.0 GPA and is proud to be an honor roll student. His goal is to graduate from UCLA with a master’s degree in zoology and to open his own veterinary clinic.
“I learned that I can express my true self at the Club, and I’ve always felt accepted,” said Kanye.
The 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota Youth of the Year was determined by a panel of three judges, including: Myndee Anderson, Jason Bernick and Mark Osendorf. The judging criteria included: overall Club experience, youth advocacy, character, overcoming obstacles, academic achievement and leadership & service. The 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota Youth of the Year receives a $500 scholarship and will move on to the State Youth of the Year competition in April. The State Youth of the Year will receive a $20,000 Home Team Scholarship Award, and all runners up also receive a scholarship.