During a highly emotional and surprising event, Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County named Anajiah Graham of Smith & Moore Family Teen Center of Belle Glade the 2021 Youth of the Year for Palm Beach County. The dinner held Friday night, February 19, at Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, celebrated the area’s 17 local Clubs’ mission of enabling young people to reach their full potential. Finalists from the seven Clubs with teen programs competed for the county title. Graham, a senior at Glades Central High School, was named the winner after several rounds of essays, interviews and speeches. All finalists received a four-year Florida Prepaid College Scholarship, while Graham received a four-year university scholarship with room and board from the Mary Alice Fortin Foundation.
“I feel excited and happy because Belle Glade has a Youth of the Year winner,” said Graham after giving a speech highlighting the often-overlooked achievements of teens in the Glades area. “It’s important that other children in the Glades be positive. There are opportunities that are life-changing that we can go for.”
This night was also full of surprises for the Youth of the Year finalists and both in-person and virtual audiences. At the end of the ceremony, Coke Florida and Family Dollar unexpectantly gave the seven teens Chromebook laptops to ensure they are ready for their college careers. In another surprise, the First Daughter of the United States, Ashley Biden, sent a videotaped message to the teens. Biden recently worked for Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County as a social-emotional coordinator.
“I worked with some incredibly dedicated, passionate, caring men and women. You guys have a solid organization down in Palm Beach County, and I am really grateful for my time there,” stated the First Daughter. “Boys & Girls Clubs are essential, I believe, in every community in America. They provide youth with leadership skills, character development, academic support and mentorship and provide youth with a safe space that enriches the lives of all who attend. Boys & Girls Clubs provide a roadmap for youth to reach their dreams and their goals.”
The 2021 Palm Beach County Youth of the Year finalists were Elisha Jenkins from Florence De George Boys & Girls Clubs of West Palm Beach, Breanna Bromfield from Marjorie S. Fisher Boys & Girls Club of West Palm Beach, Artisha Jackson from Max M. Fisher Boys & Girls Club of Rivera Beach, Jessica Angela Badeau from Boys & Girls Club of Delray Beach, Garvey Antoine from Boys & Girls Club of Boca Raton, and Proteon Elizabeth Shelby-Davis from Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington.
Since space inside the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa ballroom was limited due to COVID-19 safeguards, the event was broadcasted live to all digital devices. All seven Clubs with teen programs held watch parties to excite and motivate younger Club members to be future Youth of the Year finalists.
A special thank you goes to the Youth of the Year Chairmen, Olympia Bishop and Wilder Regalbuto and Honorary Chairmen Hon. Danielle H. Moore and Hon. Lesly Smith.
Click the button below to watch the entire program or make a donation to the Youth of the Year program: