Recognizing Greater Cincinnati’s Youth



Samuel Miller, 2015 Youth of the Year

Photography by Daniel Smyth

Each year the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati hosts the annual Youth of the Year competition. The competition recognizes Club kids who have met personal challenges head-on and given back to their Club and community, despite the odds. Youth of the Year recipients have demonstrated service to Club, community and family, academic success, strong moral character, life goals and public speaking ability.

This years finalists included Samual Miller, representing the James J. Espy Club in Price Hill; Dorian Cosby, representing the Clem & Ann Buenger Club in Newport; Alexus Watson, representing the Marge Schott-Unnewehr Club in Covington; Tahjay Woodward, representing the LeBlond Club in Over-the-Rhine; and Blake Zanders, representing the U.S. Bank Club in Avondale.

This year’s recipient of the Youth of the Year for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Cincinnati is Samuel Miller, a senior at Oyler High School. Miller has experienced adversity throughout his life, but with the help of the Espy Boys & Girls Club he is making strides towards a bright future.

“I am so proud of our kids, and Sam is a great example of the kids who need us most overcoming obstacles on the path to a great future.” – Brent Seelmeyer, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati. 

In his Youth of the Year speech he wrote, “Growing up, I didn’t care about my future, no one ever told me it mattered. Life was a constant struggle, I always felt like a cloud of bad luck followed me around, like it was attached to my hip or something.

“During elementary school I was bullied for being skinny and small. The other kids always called me ugly and said I looked like a lizard, just hurtful things that no kid should ever endure. It sure didn’t feel like my teachers at the time cared about my future. 

“My mom became an alcoholic when I was seven. We moved around a lot because mom would get into fights with everyone who lived around us. It sure didn’t feel like she cared at all about my future; my own mom ... so I felt why should I care?

“Eventually we moved to Price Hill and I started (at) Oyler. Some kids talked about this after-school place – they said it was fun and it helped them with school. I had never heard of the Boys & Girls Club and didn’t believe there was a place that could care about my future, especially if my own mom didn’t seem to care. But then, finally someone seemed to care – my family signed me up for Espy’s after school program. I’ll never forget my first day at the club – I played basketball for the first time with kids who didn’t give me a hard time – no lizard nicknames or skinny boy jabs.

“It was true – there is a place that cares about my future! The Boys & Girls Club has changed my life because it has shown me that my future does matter.”

For Miller and thousands of other local members, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati has brought meaning and hope to their lives.

Dorian Cosby

 

“I am so proud of our kids, and Sam is a great example of the kids who need us most overcoming obstacles on the path to a great future,” says Brent Seelmeyer, president of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati. “It really is all about opening doors for them. Sam will be a great advocate for the Clubs this year and will represent the more than 7,000 youths we serve locally with great leader- ship and character.”

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati provide free afterschool and summer programing and one free meal a day for thousands of children between the ages of 5 and 18 in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. The organization provides a safe, positive environment focused on enrichment activities designed to support high school graduation, healthy lifestyles and community service. For the children attending one of the 10 locations, the Club provides opportunity.

Dorian Cosby explained in her Youth of the Year speech how the Clem & Ann Buenger Club has helped her overcome her personal demons:

“As a 16-year-old girl from Newport, Kentucky, there are many aspects in life that aim to push me down. People doubt me because I attend Newport High School. They think that I won’t be able to achieve what I set out to do. I am here today to prove them wrong.

“I have many siblings; there are times when I am not able to the thing that I’d want because I am caring for them. The Club is an escape for me. Truthfully, I was scared of the Club as I walked in for the first time on the day I turned six-years-old. I did not know anyone except for my sister. She took me to the gym and introduced me to the staff. I had to break out of my shell, talk to my peers and make new friends. I began to love the Club and looked forward to coming each day after school.

Tahjay Woodward

 

“One thing I used to always struggle with were anger issues. In the past, I was quick to anger and would easily blow up; the Club was quick to discipline this negative behavior. I went from being kicked out of the Club to reaching a realization of the way I should be acting and would be begging to come back. The Club helped me control all that anger and taught me to walk away from people who are causing the problem.”

With the guidance of the Club, Cosby has realized her full potential and acts as a role model for younger children at the Club.

This year’s Youth of the Year finalists will be honored at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati’s 2015 Blue Door Bash hosted on Saturday, Sept. 26 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. Join the organization as they recognize these five teens for their outstanding achievements. 

Alexus Watson

 

To learn more about the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Cincinnati visit www.bgcgc.org