The Youth of the Year Program is Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, promoting and celebrating Club members and their service. On Wednesday, March 23rd, 15 Boys & Girls Club members from across the state of Washington met at Qwest Field where they competed in the State Youth of the Year competition. Kainen Bell, Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound’s Youth of the Year, represented the organization proudly as he went through rounds of interviews in front of a panel of judges as well as giving his speech. Later that evening, all 15 of the finalists gave their speeches one last time in front of family, friends, Boys & Girls Club staff and supporters. All attendees had to leave that evening with a sense of eager anticipation, as the winner was not announced though until the next morning in Olympia at the Governor’s mansion.
Thursday morning after a restless night, all the finalists along with a few family members, staff, and board members were invited to the Governor’s Mansion for the 2011 Washington State Youth of the Year Announcement. The room was silent as Governor Gregoire had the honor of announcing this prestigious title, 2011 Washington State Youth of the Year, to Kainen Bell!!! Kainen was presented a $1,000 scholarship from Tupperware, the National Youth of the Year sponsor, $1,000 from the Washington State Alliance of the Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as $2,500 from KeyBank, the presenting sponsor of the State Youth of the Year, bringing the total scholarship dollars he has been awarded thus far through the Youth of the Year competition, to $8,000!
Kainen has been a member of the Al Davies Branch for 11 years. He is a senior at Stadium High School. Kainen is a member of many activities and clubs including, the National Honor Society, African American Club and Educational Talent Search. Kainen is able to demonstrate his leadership and sportsmanship qualities as member of the football and track teams. Upon graduation, Kainen plans to follow in the steps of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and attend Morehouse College, and pursue a career in psychology or social work.
This summer Kainen will have the opportunity to represent the entire state of Washington at the Regional level which will take place in California. Regional winners receive a $10,000 scholarship from Tupperware and enter the National competition held in Washington DC. The National Youth of the Year receives up to an additional $50,000 scholarship from Tupperware and is installed by the President of the United States. This competition is vital because the young people who earn recognition as the Youth of the Year are living proof that the Boys & Girls Clubs work. Truly, there is no stronger testimony that Great Futures Start at the Boys & Girls Clubs. On behalf of all of the staff, board members, and volunteers at the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, we congratulate Kainen and all of his accomplishments to date and know that there are so many more to come! We also thank all those who are champions for our youth. The Boys & Girls Clubs truly take kids from the Clubhouse to the (Governor’s mansion and the) Whitehouse!
The Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound benefits nearly 10,000 children and teens at nine branches and 8 outreach sites in Pierce, Mason, and Kitsap Counties. The Clubs offer programs designed to enhance personal growth and education, tutoring, computer skills, delinquency prevention, the arts, sports training, league involvement, and much more. Through quality professional staff and a fun, positive environment, the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound assist thousands of kids in developing much needed life skills, self-esteem, and positive values. For more information on the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, please call (253) 502-4600 or go online to www.bgcsps.org.