Justin is 18 years old and just graduated from Filer High School in May of 2021. He has been a Boys and Girls Club member for over a decade. Justin has been a Club member, a jr. staff, and a staff member. He has been playing football and running track for the last six years. Sports and the Boys and Girls Club have been extremely impactful in his development as a youth. The Club has given him a chance to spread his wings and figure out who he truly is. As a staff member, Justin worked with the kindergarten members. The kindergarteners were some of his favorite kids to work with because they were always ready to listen and play games when the time came. This is his second year competing in the Youth of the Year program. This program has given Justin a chance to help share his story and positivity throughout the Club and the community.
Justin shares, “I am extremely grateful for what the Club has given me.”
As a young girl, Sariah moved homes and schools frequently. With her life being in a constant state of change, Sariah closed herself off from others, making it hard for her to form meaningful relationships. Things started to change for the better when Sariah started attending the Club at the age of 6. She was a quiet girl and struggled to make friends with kids her own age. The Club staff saw her struggles and reached out. They invested in Sariah with their time and words and slowly but surely the walls around her heart began to crumble. She finally found a place that she belonged. During this time, Sariah began to struggle with her father and their dysfunctional relationship. He began to abuse drugs and became very mentally abusive to Sariah. The Boys and Girls Club became her place of refuge, her happy place. Unfortunately, the intense trauma stemming from the relationship with her father caused Sariah to stop attending the Club. She was suffering from debilitating anxiety and had fallen into a dark hole of depression. As she got into her teenage years, thoughts of the Club kept playing in her mind and Sariah decided it was time to make a change. She wanted to go back to her happy place and applied to become a staff member at the Club.
Everything fell into place when she went back to the Club. She started going to counseling, she started attending Teen Nights at the Club, and she even became Keystone Club president. Sariah is now a junior at Canyon Ridge High school and is an advocate for mental health awareness. She wants America’s youth to know that they don’t have to journey through life alone. Thanks to the Boys and Girls Club, Sariah is now able to positively impact kids the way she was impacted as a child.
Selina’s story isn’t uncommon; growing up in a small town in a single-parent household and struggling through a broken environment. She experienced homelessness and faced challenges brought on by financial hardship. Selina, the oldest of four siblings, had to support her family throughout her childhood, especially when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Alongside those hardships, her cousin committed suicide in 2013, which added to the weight she carried through her teenage years. Although many of those circumstances are common in today’s society, Selina’s reaction was extraordinary; she used those experiences to change her environment and lead others, instead of being dragged down and broken by her past.
Her response to overcoming these obstacles is, “I believe that we are all destined for success, but it’s our own perception of our trials that stops us.” Selina’s determination to live by these words shines through in her every day life. She is now a senior at Buhl High School, excelling as Class President, a member of Honors Jazz Band, Future Hispanic Leaders of America, and National Honor Society. She’s also a passionate advocate for suicide awareness and prevention, and works to support suicide prevention efforts. To her, mental health is crucial to the success of all youth, especially as the future leaders of America. Upon graduation, Selina plans to attend Washington State University to pursue a degree in nursing. For now, Selina continues to bring life to those around her through her determination to lead, succeed, and inspire.