The Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County recently named Kayla Smith the Youth of the Year. A junior at Watson Chapel High School, Smith has a 3.5 grade point average and has been an active member of the Boys & Girls Club for nine years.


Smith is daughter of Germaine and Shaun Smith and the late Reginald Smith, according to a news release.


“Kayla is well deserving of this title and I believe she will do well with all future endeavors,” said Nyeshia Aldridge, chief executive officer of the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County.


She will go on to compete for the Arkansas Youth of the Year title and a $2,500 college scholarship from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. If she is named the Arkansas Youth of the Year, she will compete for Southwest Regional Youth of the Year. The winner will receive an additional $20,000 college scholarship.


Six finalists will advance to Washington, D.C., in October to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The national winner will receive an additional scholarship of $50,000. The Youth of the Year program is supported by Toyota, according to the release.


Smith enjoys volunteering and playing the trombone in WCHS Band. After high school she plan to attend the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and seek a career in sports medicine or forensic science.


“The Youth of the Year title is a prestigious honor bestowed upon an exemplary young person in recognition of leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to live a healthy lifestyle,” according to the news release. “Now in its 73rd year, the Youth of the Year program honors our nation’s most awe-inspiring young people on their path to great futures.”


The club selected Smith for the local Youth of the Year from among nine students. She participates in the Junior Staff program, a program for Boys & Girls Club teens ages 13 to 18. This program’s purpose is to guide young people in preparing for a career in Boys & Girls Clubs and/or other service professions.


“Through participation in Junior Staff, teens will develop interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic and a sense of community engagement while experiencing on-the-job club work,” according to the release.


Smith is also a member of the SMART Girls program, a small-group health, fitness, prevention/education and self-esteem enhancement program designed to meet the developmental needs of girls in three age groups.


“Through dynamic sessions, highly participatory activities, field trips and mentoring opportunities with adult women, club girls explore their own and societal attitudes and values as they build skills for eating right, staying physically fit, getting good health care and developing positive relationships with peers and adults,” according to the release.


The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County is to inspire and enable all young people to reach their full potential as responsible, caring and productive citizens.


Two club sites serve more than 325 young people through membership and community outreach. Clubs are located in Pine Bluff, and serve four school districts in Jefferson County.


Details: www.youthoftheyear.org or Nyeshia Aldridge at the Boys & Girls Club of Jefferson County, naldridge@boysgirlsclubjc.org or 870-850-7500.