WHAT: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico (BGCPR) recognizes leadership of youth highlighted by their contribution to their family, school, community and Club, as well as personal challenges faced and the obstacles that were conquered.

HOW: The program is promoted throughout the year in Clubs to cultivate good character, personal development and leadership skills among young people. The Clubs honor members between the ages of 16 and 18 who were selected as Youth of The Month and choose their Club’s Youth of the Year, who then participates in the island-wide contest. During this, a jury of professional leaders and public figures choose the Youth of the Year from BGCPR. The winner receives scholarships for bachelor studies and becomes the official spokesperson for the socioeconomically disadvantaged youth of Puerto Rico. 

They also participate in the Northeast Regional Competition at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America at a national level. Then, five regional winners are selected, who receive a another scholarship and compete in July in Washington, D.C. for the title of America’s Youth of the Year.

Since the program began in 1947, the five regional winners have been recognized at a breakfast in the United States Congress. The National Youth of The Year winner receives an additional $15,000 scholarship.

RESULTS: During one year, BGCPR’s winner for Youth of the Year is the representative and spokesperson for more than 15,500 children and young people impacted by BGCPR. Throughout the year, the Youth of the Year participates in groups or forums that address youth-competing topics and represents BGCPR’s role in transforming the lives of children and young people. As a spokesperson, he or she participates in various activities in front of important government, business, civic, and community leaders.

Jean C. Cartagena

AGUAS BUENAS

 

Jean Carlos has been a member of the Aguas Buenas Club since he was six years old and considers it his second family. In the Club, they have instilled in him great teachings, values and have given him unconditional love in the most difficult moments of his life. Thanks to the support of his leaders and the organization, the candidate began his goals to grow as a young entrepreneur and improve every day.

 

His experiences at the Club contributed significantly to strengthening his values, working as a team, and defeating his shyness. Likewise, his participation in different leadership groups of the Club reaffirmed his love for the community and aroused his interest in contributing to its improvement. For this reason, in the future, Jean aspires to help others from a workspace that works directly on social issues such as psychology, social work, counseling, or any other branch that meets his aspirations and interests.

Yeishirian Y. Vázquez Lanzó

LUIS LLORENS TORRES

 

Her arrival at the Club began in the summer of 2019, and in two and a half years she has made the most out of the experiences that this place has provided her where “they make you feel at home.” “Since my journey in the Club began, I feel more socially open, communicative, I believe in myself, and I have developed great skills that I had hidden,” says the tenth grader and member of the Clubs volleyball team.

 

One of the most significant experiences that the Club has given Yeishirian is participating in initiatives in favor of solving the problems in her community. In the process, she has become more closely acquainted with the needs of her surroundings. “It has been a constant struggle on our part to make Luis Llorens Torres visible as a healthy community… I believe that marginalization is a way of keeping invisible what society does not want to see. It’s an easy way to handle complex problems since it is much easier to keep out of everything that you do not want to grapple with. In the case of my community, this can be in the need for better education, decent jobs, and mental health,” she reflects.

 

As part of her spokesperson, this leader and future neurosurgeon will raise in her message the importance of mental health, equal opportunities, equity, inclusion, and respect for diversity.

Kamila S. Lugo Rosario

CAROLINA

 

Kamila S. Lugo Rosario, who has been at the Club for nine years, considers that belonging to the Club is the best thing that has happened to her because it has positively marked her in her personal and professional development. There, the young woman learned to become a leader, manage her emotions, express herself clearly, and have confidence in herself.

 

After fighting against the female stereotypes that she encountered in her school, Kamila learned, with the Club leaders, the value of acceptance and the uniqueness of each person. Also, thanks to the activities that she experienced in the Club, she discovered new passions such as dance, sports, and writing as a means of expressing her ideas and feelings. This discovery led her to recognize her strengths and to choose her future profession as a communicator.

Alanis Gualdarrama Zambrana

For Alanis Gualdarrama the Arecibo Club is like her family because they receive her with love, affection and integrate her in all the activities they do. Thanks to the Club’s fun activities, which are designed for teaching youngsters something positive, the young woman has been positively influenced in her personal and professional growth.  

 

Through her experiences in the organization, Alanis has discovered herself as well as her passions. Thanks to this, she found her passion for psychology. This is a field she wants to study in the future to help young people and children from violent environments to demoralize violence from their communities and educate them about positive environments. 

Alan Gustavo Piñeiro

Alan Gustavo Piñeiro has been a member of the Club for five years and during the time he has been there he has learned about responsibility, and the skills of not to giving up and controlling his emotions. 

 

Developing these qualities allowed him to participate in different activities in which he has put his virtues to the test, one of them being his passion for the environment. Alan’s passion for caring and educating about the environment has led him to have his own plant and fish business, a YouTube channel in which he educates all his subscribers about plants (Gustavo’s Plantas, Peces y algo más ), and a Facebook account with 1,000 followers (Gustavo’s plants and fish PR). 

 

For this reason, the candidate for the 2022 Youth of the Year wants to study Agronomy at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus. “At the Club I learned that everything with effort is achievable,” he pointed out.  

Diego Vallejo Cruz

SAN LORENZO

 

Diego Vallejo has been a member of the Club for four years. He came in thinking that the place was going to be a daycare, but it became more than that. It turned out to be a significant place for his personal and educational growth. 

 

At the Club he discovered his passion for art as a form of expressing his emotions. Also, he learned about teamwork, the importance of community service and the quality of leadership. 

 

Through the activities that he has participated in the Club, Diego realized the need that many people have of receiving a complete and quality education. Therefore, he wants to study Education so he can teach others and instill the seed of change and social justice that everyone deserves. Congratulations, Diego! 

Naichali Ferreira Rodríguez

LAS MARGARITAS

 

Thanks to the dedication and commitment she has demonstrated to her Club since becoming a member eight years ago, Naichali Ferreira is admired by her peers and mentors. By learning to dance Puerto Rican bomba at the Club, she began to feel proud of her origins and African roots. Dancing has also boosted her self-esteem and developed skills that will help her to train as a future professional dancer. 

 

Likewise, she is grateful for the Club leaders who provided her tools to improve and continue working on her academic achievement. Thanks to all the experiences and the knowledge obtained in the Club, Naichali became an outspoken leader who wants to defend women’s rights and be the voice of those who need to be listened.  

 

Joralies K. Acevedo Suárez

BAYAMÓN

 

Joralies K. Acevedo has been attending Boys & Girls Club in Bayamón since she was eight years old. “The Club is like my second home”, says of three siblings who participate in the Club’s programs and services.  

 

At the Club, the high school student feels that she has grown, matured and become an empathetic leader. She has belonged to youth leadership groups and participated in educational programs that reinforced her skills for critical analysis, communicate and interact with others.  

 

Soon to graduate and start her post-secondary studies with the long-term goal of becoming a lawyer and prosecutor, Joralies feels confident that she will succeed because she has had the support of her mentors at the Club and developed as a goal-oriented person with discipline and change management skills. As her Club’s Youth of the Year she knows that her example will encourage many other children and young people to continue in their studies and pursue their dreams.  

 

Ineishka Balaguer

MAYAGÜEZ

 

Been part of the Club since she was six years old, makes Ineishka Balaguer to consider this magical and welcoming place her second home. Since her beginnings as a Club member, she has participated in different extracurricular activities that helped her to develop her study skills, character and leadership. She is currently part of the Keystone Club, Boys & Girls Club Movement’s ultimate teen program, aimed to provide leadership development opportunities.  

 

What she loves the most of being a “keystoner” is that it allows her to do community service, make a difference in society and become a role model for her peers.  

 

Despite adversity, Ineishka found in the Club a safe place where she developed her optimistic personality, left shyness behind and discovered her passion for animals and science. That is why her goal is to study Marine Biology at the University of Puerto Rico (Humacao Campus) and open a shelter for animals.