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Youth of the Year

2022 Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha Youth of the Year: Kayla Mitchell

The Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha would like to proudly introduce and congratulate our 2022 Youth of the Year, Kayla Mitchell.

Below is an excerpt from Kayla’s Youth of the Year Speech on her experience at the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha and what the Club means to her.

Close your eyes, now think of what you call ¨home¨. Usually when you think of home you think of four walls, a home cooked meal that mama made, and your safe place. When I close my eyes I see The Club. The club has always been my home ever since elementary school and that has always been ¨the spot¨.

When I first started to attend the club I didn’t really know anyone, but that didn’t matter because I was introduced to the ¨buddy bench¨. When you are on the buddy bench, you are never alone. Even if you just need someone to talk to, somebody will always show up for you. I feel like this is one of the most impactful things that is at the Boys and Girls Club because they make sure that nobody feels by themselves. Sometimes kids don’t have the courage to go up to people to make new friends, so the buddy bench makes it easier for children to make friends and have someone to talk to. I will always remember my first day that I walked into the club. I felt out of place because it seemed like everyone knew each other, so I sat on the buddy bench. I didn’t even realize the impact of the bench until I sat on it, no more than 5 minutes later a girl walked up to me and asked me if I wanted to play carpetball. Savanna, I will never forget you thank you for that small act of kindness and I want to especially thank the Boys and Girls Club for building something so small, that occupied the biggest part of my heart.

During the year of 2018 I experienced a hardship within my family, my mother had just recovered from neck and spinal surgery. She was unable to work at the time and we ended up being homeless. We had to stay in a shelter and we didn’t have support from other family members, but I never looked at this situation as a tragedy or devastation. I viewed my situation as a speed bump and a story to tell to those going through the same experience, but I never stopped having faith because I knew GOD had a greater plan for me. The Club helped me escape from reality because I came to the Club every day after school. Being at the shelter constantly reminded me of my situation and it brought me a feeling of sorrow, but being at the Club brought me joy to be around kids my age and to have a full stomach, sometimes Mr. Kevin used to give me a little extra which made me smile. The Club helped me on my journey through my adversity and they didn’t even know that just coming into work made my day ten times better.

Sophomore year summer the Club helped me realize my passion and what I wanted to do in life. Dance has always been my passion since I was in kindergarten and when I saw the studio in the Teen Center I instantly fell in love. Every time I went to Club I would run to the studio to dance. All of my life people would tell me that I have excellent leadership skills and I knew that I loved to teach. One day I was talking to Mr. Jason, who was the director of teen services at the time, and we talked about a summer dance camp for the youth center kids. That was the best decision I had ever made because I enjoyed teaching and seeing the smiles on their faces learning how to dance. The Boys and Girls Club supported me throughout the whole camp, they provided water for the girls, and one of the tech guys even helped make a production video, so the girls could see the progress they made throughout the camp. After doing this camp, the Boys and Girls Club helped me open up my eyes on what I wanted to do in the future.

The Boys and Girls Club helped make me who I am today, through all the tears, the opportunities, and the late nights at the Club. The Club is a place that should be in every neighborhood because it’s my community safe haven.