"Club is not a place, but rather a magical experience where the greatest things can happen." – KaVon McGowen
On February 8 2017, Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa hosted its annual Youth of the Year recognition dinner at the Holiday Inn Des Moines. The Youth of the Year program honors the nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures and encourages all kids to lead, succeed and inspire. As both the 2016 and 2017 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Iowa, 17-year old KaVon is a true example of an extraordinary young man recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for his leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle.
KaVon, a senior at Lincoln High School, has been a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs for nine years and is one of the Club’s biggest advocates, boasting its positive impact on his social development and leadership skills. He recalls how the staff, fellow Club members, and activities helped him become less shy and develop into the charismatic and selfless leader he is today.
"Club is a place where kids can enrich their mind and body,” said KaVon. "The most important thing about Club is that no matter the odds, they are always in your corner. To know that they genuinely care about me and everyone else is more than I could ever ask for.”
The Boys & Girls Club staff says Kavon, who now serves in a volunteer capacity as a junior staff member, is an invaluable presence at Club.
"I love to lead and inspire kids so that they can be the absolute best they can,” said KaVon. "Seeing a kid understand a tough concept, finally make a basket in a real basketball game, or just finish their homework – that’s what keeps me going; kids meeting their goals and knowing I could help make that possible.”
During his Youth of the Year journey, KaVon shared his plans of attending Iowa State University to become a genetic engineer with the hope of helping to feed more people around the world. KaVon’s mission is to also open more Boys & Girls Clubs across the nation and the world so that more young people can benefit from Club the way he did.
"The Boys & Girls Club is capable of enriching and saving the lives of thousands, maybe even millions, of children across America,” said KaVon. "I am willing to take any steps necessary to ensure that we can help the kids of America today become the leaders of tomorrow.”
In March, KaVon will compete against Boys & Girls Club members from across the state for the Iowa Youth of the Year title and a $5,000 college scholarship from BGCA. If KaVon wins at the state competition, he will compete for the title of Midwest Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 college scholarship, renewable for four years up to $40,000. Five regional winners will advance to Washington D.C. in September 2016 to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year will receive an additional scholarship of $25,000, renewable each year up to $100,000 and will have the opportunity to meet with the President of the United States in the White House.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by Disney, who has supported BGCA for more than 50 years, empowering young people to reach their full potential and providing youth with access to the tools they need to build the great futures they imagine. Toyota, the Signature Sponsor of Youth of the Year, is committed to helping improve the quality of life in our communities, and has demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring youth have access to a quality education. Additional support is provided by University of Phoenix, a national education partner that has joined with BGCA to impact academic success among youth across the country, and the Taco Bell Foundation, BGCA’s premier partner for teen empowerment.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org.