And our Youth of the Year is… Al-Muta Hawks!

When Al-Muta Hawks first started coming to the Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club in 2005 as a 6-year-old boy, he was excited to make new friends and play games in the gymnasium. He did not yet realize that his Boys & Girls Club membership would bring him endless opportunities to improve his academics, build his character and leadership skills and discover his true potential.

Today, Al-Muta is an 18-year-old senior at Sarasota Military Academy who represents 5,000 Club members as the 2017-2018 Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County Youth of the Year.

Since 1947, Youth of the Year has been the premier recognition program of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America that celebrates the extraordinary achievements of Club members across the nation. Al-Muta was awarded this prestigious title among four other outstanding youth candidates in Sarasota County by a panel of five prominent community leaders at the organization’s annual Steak & Burger celebration on February 3.

“We are so incredibly proud of Al-Muta,” said Bill Sadlo, President/CEO at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota County. “It’s been wonderful to watch him grow over the last 12 years into the impressive young man he is today who embodies everything our organization stands for – motivation to improve his academics, commitment to a healthy lifestyle and dedication to making our community a better place through leadership service.”

As Youth of the Year, Al-Muta wants to inspire, motivate and provide a voice for all children living in poverty. Al-Muta is also serving as President of our Keystone Club, a teen leadership group, and has led special projects to raise funds for 16 teen Club members to attend the National Keystone Conference in Chicago this March. He has also had a major role in strengthening community ties between the youth we serve and local law enforcement through Sheriff Tom Knight’s Rightful Policing Strategy Workshop.

Al-Muta will go on to the state Youth of the Year competition as our organization’s representative. If he wins the Florida Youth of the Year title, Al-Muta will advance to the regional level, then possibly the national celebration. Youth who compete at the state, regional and national levels have the opportunity to become the 2017-2018 Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year. The national winner will become the spokesperson for 4 million Boys & Girls Clubs members nationwide, win academic scholarships and meet with the President of the United States.

Congratulations, Al-Muta! We are so proud of you!