Boys & Girls Clubs of America named RaShaan Allen the 2013-2014 Military Youth of the Year during a reception held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial in Arlington, Va., last month.
A member of Devers Youth Center in Fort Knox, Ky., Allen will receive a $20,000 scholarship, and serve as BGCA’s official youth advocate for military teens.
To earn the Military Youth of the Year honor, Allen advanced through local, state and regional competitions demonstrating how he achieved academic success and made outstanding contributions to his family, school, community and BGCA-affiliated youth center while overcoming personal obstacles.
Allen was one of six military youth finalists competing for the honor, which is supported by National Government Services Foundation and University of Phoenix.
When Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, Allen lost his home, his neighborhood, his school and his best friend, leaving what he says is a permanent hole in his heart. Today, it is clear his heart is healing, even if the hole will never completely disappear. Allen credits Club and extracurricular activities with helping him grow and heal.
He served as co-president of the Club Youth Council and as Army Family Action Plan delegate. At school, Allen played eight varsity sports and captained six of those teams. He also served as president of both his freshman and senior classes. He was elected governor at Kentucky Boys State, a program focused on state government. He is now at Western Kentucky University, where he plans to major in political science.
“This is the first year that the Youth of the Year initiative was expanded to recognize youth who are members of BGCA-affiliated Youth Centers on U.S. military installations worldwide,” said Terrill Wicks, national vice president, Military and Outreach Services, Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
“At BGCA, we are proud to be one of the largest partners of the armed services to provide youth development programs and services to children of military families. We’re also honored to recognize this outstanding young person, who understands the unique circumstances that face our military youth. RaShaan will serve as a strong advocate for the 500,000 young people we serve on U.S. military installations worldwide.”
Since 1991, BGCA has provided services to children of military personnel, a significant resource to these families as they face the tough challenges of frequent relocation and parent deployment.
Currently, BGCA serves almost 500,000 youth on almost 400 U.S. military installations worldwide.