Long Beach, California 2020-10-16 21:39:32 –
When each of the three teenagers reached the podium, they told a painful childhood story full of adversity and broken heart.
“In elementary school, I was an exile. I didn’t have any friends, so I sat down at lunch and did nothing,” said Se’Quoia Sims, 17, a junior at Jordan High School. I did. “I was skeptical of my existence. I felt depressed and swallowed by sadness.”
Korea Miamour, a 16-year-old third-year student at Cabrillo High School, remembered being entrusted to her foster parent when she was in elementary school. “I was hiding in my foster parent’s closet and had a really terrible anxiety problem until I just painted. I got lost.”
Cabrirohai’s senior Joy Wallace, 17, talks about the existence of a childhood nomadic homeless born in Texas, moving to California, then to Colorado, back to Texas, and finally back to California. did. “I’ve always been an introverted and quiet kid, staying with my family for a short time and even staying in homeless shelters because of domestic violence. I tried to hide it, but I got depressed. I fell into it. “
Fortunately, these stories have a happy ending.
All three teens are the coveted Youth of the Year Awards finalists awarded annually by the Long Beach Boys & Girls Club. Winners are usually announced at the Boys & Girls Club Dinner Gala, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year’s winners will be announced at a live virtual event on November 12th.
As one of the judges for this year’s awards, I and my fellow judges have done the almost impossible task of choosing a winner from these three impressive contestants. That may be a cliché, but each teenager is already a winner in how he overcame huge obstacles and instead of facing a dark future, he sees a much more fulfilling life. ..
In a virtual speech and interview with the judge last week, teens praised the Boys & Girls Club staff and members for helping them build confidence by supporting and encouraging their journey. ..
“Boys and Girls Clubs may not know how much they have affected my life, but they do,” Miamour said. “I used to be an introverted girl who got lost in the system. The girl was so anxious and cloudy that she didn’t get too close to people. Talk to the people who will help you. All I can say is “Wow!”.
What she likes about Boys & Girls Club is, “They don’t see us as random kids. They see something in me and until I see it in myself. Pressed me. “
As a junior, Miamour became president of the Cabrillo High School student body. This is usually a senior position. She will graduate in June 2022 and attend Howard University. At Howard University, I want to major in criminal justice because “justice and equality are everything”.
Sims remembered the days he grew up in the Carmelitos Housing Project in North Long Beach.
“It’s scary to have to learn the difference between gunshots and fireworks in the community I live in,” she said.
She said her friend was accidentally shot in gang violence when she was in fourth grade. “It hit me hard.”
She began to behave like a child when she joined the Dean A. Eastman / Fairfield Club three years ago.
Sims participated in club programs (smart girls, training leaders, keystone) and gained confidence and leadership skills. She graduated from Jordan in 2022 and wants to go to Howard University or San Jose State University to major in law or forensic medicine.
“No one in my family has ever been to college,” she said. “But thanks to the Boys & Girls Club on Long Beach, I, Se’Quoia Sims, will be the first effort to go on to college.”
Wallace said it was his participation in the Freeman E. Fairfield / Westside Club two years ago that saved her from the dark future. But she almost missed a chance.
“I really didn’t want to go because I thought I had to leave another place,” she said. However, she joined a club opposite Kabrirohai. She came out of her shell when she began interacting with staff and other club members.
Through programs such as Smart Girls, Leaders in Training, Diplomas to Degrees, and Money Matters, she gained confidence and said she was “ready to challenge the world.” Thanks to the Boys & Girls Club, I feel strong and beautiful. I finally become myself and feel really accepted. Wallace said he would like to attend the University of Pittsburgh and major in medical school or business.
Don Rodriguez, Executive Director of the Long Beach Boys & Girls Club, said: “These three girls are incredibly proud of the effort and dedication they put into their education, club and youth of the year experience. They are like a family to us. With confidence, I can’t be more proud to be all the kind and courageous women. “
Youth of the Year winners will receive a $ 5,000 scholarship. Each runner-up will receive a $ 2,500 scholarship. All three finalists will receive a laptop and backpack from Dan Hart of Virgin Optic.
In addition to honoring the Youth of the Year finalists, the Boys & Girls Club recognizes longtime club supporter Alan Stratford at the John C. Wallace Dreammaker Awards.
Tickets will not be sold as this year’s event is virtual, but club officials are asking you to sponsor or donate to attend at bgclublb.org/YOY.
For more information, please call Kari Cho (562-595-5945) or send an email to email@example.com.