ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. — The St. Lucie County Boys and Girls Club will be announcing its ‘Youth of the Year’ winner Wednesday evening.
Tuesday, five teen candidates were interviewed by a panel of judges which selects the teenager they feel will best represent the county. The winner will progress to the state competition, which goes on to a regional and national competition.
Youth of the Year is a program that teaches teens leadership skills, public speaking skills, interview skills, and writing skills.
The teenagers first compete within their local chapter of the Boys and Girls Club. Those winners go on to the county competition.
This year’s candidates are Amy Delossantos, Malakii Wheeler, Mia Morrison, Aniya Porter, and Jedd Liberal.
Delossantos said she wants to be Youth of the Year to bring more awareness to a cause that is important to her. “I want the opportunity to spread more awareness about my platform, which is depression and overcoming it.”
Delossantos attends the Chuck Hill Club and has been with the Boys and Girls Club for 8 years.
Malakii Wheeler has been with the Percy Peek Club for two years. He told judges he is passionate about his community and wants to become Youth of the Year to be a positive influence on his peers. “I want to give the most powerful influence ever.”
Mia Morrison represents the Garden Terrace Club. “I have good grades. 4.0 GPA. I’m a kind, respectful person, and I’m a leader at my Boys and Girls Club,” Morrison said. She says she has overcome trauma in her family life that she wants to use to inspire others.
Aniya Porter represents the Infinity Club and is passionate about ending gun violence. “I would like to change the violence in my community,” Porter said. “Violence in my community is getting out of hand."
Jedd Liberal is in his first year with the Ken Pruitt Club. He is passionate about school safety. He also hopes to inspire others to overcome difficulties in life. “I inspire people to not give up because I’ve been through so much. I feel like you can keep going forward,” Liberal said.
Philip Busch has been judging the candidates for six years. “It’s a neat process to see what these kids go through, the coaching, the training, the mentorship," Busch said.
He says he takes the task of selecting the right candidate seriously, knowing they are being given a special opportunity to make a big impact.
“These kids have great aspirations to really do something with their life,” Busch said.
Wednesday, the candidates will read the speeches they read to judges on Tuesday in front of several hundred people including community leaders.
All 5 candidates will receive $1000 scholarships.
The winner will receive a $5000 scholarship and compete at the state level.