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The Boys & Girls Clubs' Youth of the Year program honors and celebrates our nation's most inspiring teens and their incredible journeys. Stories of outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle have made Youth of the Year America's premier leadership and recognition program for teens.

Meet Irene A.,
our 2023 Youth of the Year!

Irene A. Is our 2023 Chaffee County Youth of the Year! 

Irene has been a member of the Salida Club for 10 years. She has become an amazing leader and is now a staff member. Check out this article in the Ark Valley Voice to learn more about her story.

Irene represented Chaffee County in the state-wide competition on April 17th. She did a fantastic job representing our county and our Club, congratulations Irene! We are so proud of you! 

2023 Junior Youth of the Year winners were Ella Melia (Salida), and Ashlynne Goodwin (Buena Vista).

Congratulations Kuper B. our 2021 & 2022 Youth of the Year!

A 2022 graduate of Salida High School and Club member for over eight years, Kuper served as captain of our Club’s Europa Rover Robotics team, led STEM classes, and helped our summer learning-project kids at Longfellow Elementary who were struggling with math.


Kuper delivered a three-minute speech, without notes, at the 2022 Colorado Youth of the Year competition. Read his inspiring speech here.

Other YOY honorees include our BV Club's High School Youth of the Year Olivia M.; Middle School Youths of the Year Aberlyn L. and Danielle M.; and Elementary School Youth of the Year Reyna P.

All of these young people demonstrate leadership inside and outside our Clubs, and especially in our community! 

2020 Chaffee County Youth of the Year, Carlos B.!


"From my perspective, the Club is a place where people see the best in you.
We always heard it: Be Great. The Club instilled a great work ethic in me."
Carlos B.


When Carlos learned his father and five uncles had been deported to Guatemala, the perspective he developed at the Boys & Girls Club helped him confront his new reality. Carlos recounted his family's successful fight to bring his father back to the U.S. in his Youth of the Year acceptance speech


A graduate of Salida High School (where he ranked third in his class), Carlos now attends Columbia College in Chicago. He plans to be an architect. 

Club Member Wins 2019 State and Southwest Regional YOY!


"I feel like I’m making a difference, and there is nothing I take more pride in than that.” 
~Athena K.


The difference Athena K. made in the lives of young people at the Salida Boys & Girls Club propelled her to being named the 2019 Chaffee County YOY, Colorado YOY, and Southwest YOY!

Athena has suffered hearing loss for years, first diagnosed when she was in elementary school. Developing proficiency in sign language has allowed Athena to connect to others in a special way, especially the young members of her Boys & Girls Club. 


“My advocacy and teaching sign language isn’t solely for the language – it’s for the discussions. When you speak with sign language it’s personal, it incorporates your entire body and demands eye contact. Since I’ve been teaching (sign language) at the Club, I’ve noticed that more of our kids want to help others. It may be the quietest activity the Club provides, but our kids know how to listen more now than they ever did before.”

Athena is the first-ever Boys & Girls Club state winner from Chaffee County. Her Colorado state win earned her a $5,000 academic scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

In June 2019 at the Boys & Girls Clubs Southwest Regional Competition in Dallas, she won again against the state winners from Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Wyoming, and Montana. Read about Athena's Southwest competition win in The Dallas Morning News


Athena went on to compete at the national event in Washington, D.C., where she impressed many. Watch her impressive speech at the 2019 Casino Night fundraiser. We are so proud of her!

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