Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota board and staff members invite the community to a reception honoring Falastin Kunow as the 2023 Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota Youth of the Year. The reception will be at 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday, February 8, 2023 at the Southside Boys & Girls Club (1205 6th Avenue S., St. Cloud).
Falastin is 14 years old and is in 8th grade at South Junior High. She has attended the Southside Boys & Girls Club for seven years. She became a member shortly after she immigrated to Minnesota from a refugee camp in Kenya. Falastin says the Club has been the highlight of her life! Here, she has made strong friendships, learned new hobbies, and even strengthened her skills in sports.
Falastin has also used her time at the Club to improve her academic success. She has built strong relationships with the Club’s Academic Success Coordinator, who helps her with her homework on a regular basis.
Falastin said that her relationships with Boys & Girls Club staff are a key reason that she has grown into a strong leader in her Club and in the community. “Being at the Club and being included in different programs has given me the ability to reach new levels of self-confidence,” said Falastin.
Falastin credits Club staff Darius Cotton, Erique Determan and Cody Cobb for helping her become an asset on the basketball court and a leader in the Club. They have helped her develop a love for sports and the value of sportspersonship. They have also helped her find her voice in the community. Finally, these staff have helped Falastin develop confidence in herself.
“As Youth of the Year, I hope that I can show other girls like me that there are not limitations to what we can do,” said Falastin. “I want to be someone who strives to reach new heights and leave my mark to guide others along a similar path.”
Although Falastin has a few years before graduating from high school, she hopes to attend the University of Minnesota, especially after she participated in a Boys & Girls Club field trip to the campus in the Twin Cities last fall.
What’s Next for Falastin?
As Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Minnesota’s 2023 Youth of the Year, Falastin will go on to compete at the state level in the Twin Cities on March 15, 2023.
In recognition of Falastin’s accomplishments as the 2023 Youth of the Year, she will receive a $1,000 Youth of the Year local scholarship. She will also receive a scholarship through her participation in the state Youth of the Year competition. The Minnesota Youth of the Year will receive a $10,000 Home Team scholarship from the professional sports organizations in the state of Minnesota. State winners participate in Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s regional competition. Five regional winners receive a $20,000 scholarship and compete on the national level. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $50,000 scholarship.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year embodies the organization’s three priority outcome areas of leadership, character and service; academic excellence; and healthy lifestyles. The Youth of the Year is selected based on the following criteria: academic achievement; communication and relationship skills; leadership and teamwork; character, honesty and integrity. Local Clubs recognize Youths of the Month and select a Youth of the Year, who then participates in the state competition.