A’Leeyah Named 2022 Youth of the Year
Updated: Apr 14, 2022
A’Leeyah, a ninth grader at Bard High School Early College and member of our Westport Club, was named Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Baltimore’s Youth of the Year in a competition held Thursday, April 7. A’Leeyah will advance to the Maryland State competition scheduled for later this spring.
A Youth of the Year embodies the qualities of leadership and service, character, academic excellence and living a healthy lifestyle, and is able to speak to the impact their Club has made in their life.
The competition required A’Leeyah and fellow Club member Wilbert—a teen from our O’Donnell Heights Club—to prepare a portfolio (cover letter, resume, essay, and letters of recommendation), deliver a speech, and be interviewed by a panel of five judges who evaluated them on four elements: public speaking, essay, interview, and overall quality of application.
In her essay, A’Leeyah testified to her experience as a Club member: “My grades started slipping, and it was stressful trying to improve them. I went to the Boys & Girls Club to do my homework. Staff members helped and supported me through tutoring and Power Hour. The staff there helped me to understand the work that was being taught and they always encouraged me to do my best by saying ‘I believe in you.’”
A’Leeyah is especially fond of the SMART Girls program saying, “I have been taught to step outside of my comfort zone and put myself in a position to be open with my feelings. The relationships that I have made at the Club helped me become a better leader, friend, and a better me.”
Jamila Webb who served as a judge for the competition said, "I was so impressed by A’Leeyah! She spoke authentically about her experiences as a teen and challenges that she has overcome. One challenge that she talked about was a fear of public speaking. It was clear that she overcame that fear by the way she conducted herself during the interview!"
As BGCMB’s Youth of the Year, A’Leeyah will serve as a role model, ambassador, and spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs and their members.
About Youth of the Year
Since 1947, Boys & Girls Club’s Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the nation’s most inspiring teens and their journeys. Each year, thousands of Club teens participate in local, state and regional Youth of the Year competitions until one is chosen to represent Boys & Girls Clubs as the National Youth of the Year.
Above: A'Leeyah and Wilbert pose with the judging panel following the competition.