Caitlyn B., Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Nashua
Dozens of girls crowded into the Oceans Ballroom for the SMART Girls Expo at the 2015 National Conference.
For the first time in the history of the Boys & Girls Clubs movement, all of the National Youth of the Year finalists were female. National Youth of the Year Maryah Sullivan quoted President Obama who said, “If you give women a try, they’ll rule the world.”
The Youth of the Year finalists at the Expo were Cecilia Garza, Tae McKenzie, Jasmnika Newbern, Maryah Sullivan and Natalia Lynch. One additional finalist, Sparkle Prevard, was not able to attend the conference. They call themselves, “SWV,” or “Sisters with Values.” Anyone with eyes could see the bond between the girls.
Natalia told us she’s always looking for ways to turn obstacles into opportunities – that became her motto during the Youth of the Year process. Jasmnika said that she always wants give back to those who gave to her.
The crowd was silent when the girls talked. There was a lot of respect in the room. Being a Youth of the Year at any level is a goal most Club kids have.
After the finalists talked in a panel, there was a special guest. Stacy Barthe is a singer and songwriter who has overcome monumental obstacles. She’s struggled with self-image, just as most girls do. She played her song, “Flawed Beautiful Creatures.” Her words resonated with the audience.
When Stacy was done performing, the crowd was divided up into sections to talk to the Youth of the Year finalists and Stacy.