Five incredible young people gathered this week in Washington, D.C. Each had the same goal: to be named BGCA’s 2012-13 National Youth of the Year. The honor went to Trei Dudley, a remarkable young woman from the Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence, Kan. But nobody lost.
Over the past couple days, I got to know these young men and women a little bit. Believe me, they’re all winners and the hope of our great nation. Their success is a reminder why education is the foundation on which great futures are built.
That foundation will be reinforced by the PBS premiere of American Graduate Day this Saturday, Sept. 22. The day-long special will highlight solutions to the U.S. high school dropout crisis. At 6:30 p.m., the Boys & Girls Club approach to academic success will be featured.
Club alums Mona Dixon (2010-11 National Youth of the Year), American Ballet Theater’s Misty Copeland and actor Courtney B. Vance will join me to discuss how the Club Experience helps kids aim high – including the expectation that they will go to college.
While in Washington, we also taped an interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. The wide-ranging dialogue touched on several areas, including education, poverty and gangs; and how Clubs help kids to avoid or overcome such obstacles. Joining me to share their insights were Denzel Washington, our national spokesperson and Club alum, and Michael Phelps, the Olympic great and Club supporter. Watch the interview in its entirety here. A shorter version will air Sunday at the close of Meet the Press.
I’ll close on a personal note to our Youth of the Year finalists. Crystile, Tyler, Mai Tong, Denzell and, of course, Trei – your capacity to overcome hardship and grow into engaged, goal-oriented citizens fills me with pride. Pride for each of you, and pride for the Boys & Girls Clubs that helped lay the foundation for your great futures.