BELLE GLADE, Fla. — About 40 miles from the coast, Anajiah Graham has walked almost every street, remembers every story and lesson learned while growing up in Belle Glade.
"There's struggles that we do face," said Graham, while looking out at her city.
Over the years, Belle Glade has been plagued with poverty and high crime.
"I've witnessed a lot of violence, for example, sleeping in bed shots rang out behind the bedroom," Anajiah recalled.
At six-years-old, Anajiah joined the Boys & Girls Club of Palm Beach County, which is not only a safe haven but also a resource that is helping level the playing field.
"We would like the same opportunities as the coast has," Anajiah said. "We don't have the luxury of certain career paths and certain technology and certain resources to further our experiences."
Now, at 18-years-old, Anajiah is the Boys & Girls Club's Youth of the Year for Palm Beach County. On Wednesday, she helped celebrate the opening of the club's brand-new Smith and Moore Family Teen Center in Belle Glade.
"It's just something about that new building that's going to push the youth and the kids in this area to a greater level," Anajiah said.
The new teen center is state-of-the-art with a robotics lab, technology center, and culinary kitchen. It's a beacon of hope in the Glades ensuring club members graduate on time and have a plan for after high school.
Tammy Jackson-Moore, a long-time advocate for the Glades, calls the building a game-changer.
"It will allow our teens to see things in a different light. They have an opportunity to enjoy some of the amenities at this facility just as they do at other facilities on the coast," Jackson-Moore said.
The center will help as many as 300 teens daily.
Anajiah said the Boys & Girls Club has given her confidence, integrity, and awareness. She will be the first in her family to attend college and has been accepted to 11 universities. Once she graduates, she plans to come back to these streets and help spark change becoming the Mayor of Belle Glade, and she has dreams of running for the White House.
"That would be an amazing goal someone from Belle Glade President of the United States, wow," said Anajiah.
Anajiah wants to prove your zip code doesn't define your future.