Feature Stories


Youth of the Year, Jr.

For the first time in Boys & Girls Clubs of King County history, a Youth of the Year, JUNIOR competition was held for
3rd – 5th graders. Youth of the Year (YOY for short) has long been a tradition for high school youth in Clubs nationally (see below) but the character-building attributes that Boys & Girls Clubs are known for start years before members reach high school.

 We had 14 members, ages 9-11, from 7 of our 29 sites competing in this inaugural event. In addition to answering questions from our judges, members were asked to prepare a short speech on "What the Boys & Girls Club means to me." When they were not being judged, participants took part in three leadership activities:


  1. Public Speaking
  2. Being a Leader, Not a Boss
  3. Speaking Up and Speaking Out

Will we see any of these Club Kids in the older version of the event? Only time will tell but your help will go a long way to ensure opportunities like this are available for more kids in King County.

BGCKC's 2017 Youth of the Year, Jr award recipients:
(From Left to Right)

NW Region: Angelo Ignacio (Northgate), age 9
NE Region: Oliver "Ollie" Montejano (Bagley), age 11
East Region: Aadya Deepak (Redmond El), age 9

A big Thank You to our judges: BGCKC staff members Tanya Larkin, Shaila Khan, and Jane Ronngren; King County board member, Lisa Price; Marissa Camp (community member and former YOY winner); and Katie Ostler (community member and Club parent).


Youth of the Year

Boys & Girls Clubs of King County is proud to announce our Youth of the Year, Cassandra A. (Cassy), a member of Wallingford Boys & Girls Club.

In total, 12 exceptional teens from Clubs across the county competed for the title. Each candidate was judged on the following: leadership and service to their Club and community; their life goals, values, moral character, and academic success; and their poise and public speaking skills during an interview.

Cassy walked away with the winning title and a $2,000 education scholarship. Says Cassy, "When there was no one else to reach out to, I knew I could turn to the staff at the Boys & Girls Club. Without my mentors at the Club, I wouldn't have had the strength to continue my studies while my family was homeless. I have come to think of the Boys & Girls Club as not only a place to go to after school, but a refuge and a home away from home."

"Cassy is incredibly hard-working and driven," says Meghan Sweet, Club Executive Director of Wallingford Boys & Girls Club. "She won't let her challenges get in the way of her success. The Club has provided her a second home, while she in turn has helped make the Club the type of warm, welcoming place we strive to provide all our members. The world needs more young women like Cassy, who prove that anyone who is given a place and an opportunity to develop their potential can become a community leader."

Cassy is passionate about humanizing and elevating the voices of individuals who are homeless. Cassy herself has experienced homelessness, and wants to share real stories of individuals who are homeless to deconstruct the misunderstandings of this label. She co-founded a student organization where she and other students interview homeless individuals and share their stories on a Facebook page called "The Unheard Voices of Seattle."

Cassy went on to compete in the Washington State Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year competition on March 22 & 23. Briana Mitchell from Boys & Girls Clubs of South Puget Sound, became Washington state's Youth of the Year and will compete at the Pacific Regional competition this summer.

BGCKC's Youth of the Year 2017 was made possible by Presenting Sponsor, Microsoft. Event sponsors also include: Alaska Airlines, Farmers Insurance, Fred Meyer Fund, Macy's, and Princess Cruises. The event was also supported by the generosity of Northwest Sports Photography, Northwest Trophy and Awards, Michael Bruce Image Consulting, and InterConnection.




Summer Brain Gain

School is out for summer, but for Boys & Girls Club members, learning continues. Through a fun and educational Summer Brain Gain program, BGCKC aims to prevent summer learning loss and help kids stay on track for school in the fall.

Summer Brain Gain is comprised of one-week modules with fun, themed learning activities for elementary school, middle school and high school students. Each module takes a project-based learning approach: youth engage in a process of learning through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project or production.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America sites that more than half of the achievement gap between lower-and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. Summer Brain Gain aims to close that gap.

BGCKC Club kids were excited to participate in Brain Gain and try new ways of learning. Rotary Club members focused on the "Team Me" module at the start of summer to learn about themselves and what makes each Club member special and unique.

Club members at the Joel E. Smilow Clubhouse & Teen Center at Rainier Vista studied ecosystems and explored the outdoors during their Teen Brain Gain Summer Camp.

Lawton Elementary Boys & Girls Club members enjoyed learning about sea animals and their habitats.

This summer, all BGCKC Clubs incorporated Summer Brain Gain activities into summer camps. Through Summer Brain Gain's program and the hard work of Club kids and staff, Club kids are on a better path to being ready for the coming school year.  To learn more: http://www.bgca.org/programs/programs-summer-brain-gain-curriculum​



Rotary Club from Luis Albizo (1).jpgBGCKC Club Members Help Microsoft Set World Record for Coding

Microsoft set the Guinness World Record for the most people trained in computer programming in eight hours and our Club kids helped them do it!

The Day of Coding at Microsoft required 1,300 participates to code for 30 minutes, completing all 52 steps to help them achieve a new world record. Supported by 173 BGCKC staff members, 856 Club kids and teens from several Club locations were invited to Redmond to learn how to code and help beat the record.

"Club kids got to experience accomplishment and the understanding that their future can hold many possibilities. The Microsoft Imagine Coding Camp provided a remarkable opportunity for them," said Jane Ronngren, Vice President of Early Learning and Child Care Operations. "Many of them had no idea they could code."

Ronngren coordinated the effort across King County Clubs and said staff and Club kids not only had a blast but hope they get the opportunity to participate again in the future.

"It was really amazing to walk into those rooms and see everyone so focused on their coding project," said Ronngren. "Our Microsoft friends gave these kids and teens a chance to see their potential."

A replica of the award shown here with Jane Ronngren and Phillip Robinson from Guinness World Records will be displayed at the Club Service Center downtown.

More on this story: http://huff.to/1IRqQxb          

More on Microsoft Imagine Coding Camp: http://bit.ly/1Yqzdsa