The Barksdale Boys and Girls Club in Rockdale County recently named Hannah Murphy as the recipient of their annual Youth of the Year award. This is the highest distinction a Barksdale BGC member could receive.
Murphy, a 17-year-old senior at Salem High School and the daughter of Andre and Lisa Murphy, joined BCG last August. In just a year, she has become president of the Keystone Program, which is an organization that focuses on leadership and community service.
She is involved in many different activities ranging from vice president in student government association at Salem to being on the yearbook staff. She also attends Rockdale Career Academy where she studies Early Childhood Education.
Each year, one winner is selected from the 19 metro Atlanta Boys and Girls Club locations. The 19 nominees, one from each of the Boys and Girls Club locations, are then honored at the annual Youth of the Year Dinner and Awards Ceremony, and compete for the title of metro Atlanta Youth of the Year.
Murphy was enthusiastic about the event. “We won’t know until they announce our name if we’re one of the six finalists,” she said. “Then we’ll have to say our speech in front of the judges and everyone else. I’m so excited.”
More than 800 attendees, including local politicians, business leaders and supporters, attended the signature fundraising event on Nov. 15 at the Georgia Aquarium. Participants heard speeches from the six metro Atlanta Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year finalists about how the Boys and Girls Club has helped shape their lives.
The clubs receive applications from many talented and deserving teens for the Youth of the Year competition. Community leaders and youth development experts evaluate teens on a variety of criteria including academic achievement, character and leadership qualities and engagement in the club and community.
“We teach our youth that hope and opportunity exists for each of them,” said Missy Dugan, president and CEO of BGCMA. “If they are willing to invest and learn, we are here to help them discover their potential. I’m so proud of our Youth of the Year winners. They teach all of us that by working hard and believing in yourself, you truly can achieve your dreams.”
Achieving your dreams is something that Murphy strongly believes in. She wants to become a pediatrician or study business administration and is planning to attend college at Emory, North Carolina A&T or Spelman College.
Murphy offers encouragement to struggling youth. “Never give up, especially at this age,” she said. “That’s like the worst thing you could do. Also, stay positive. If you have a negative mindset while you’re going through your problems, you won’t ever excel.”