BRISTOL â€“ Brianna Parker, the Boys & Girls Club of Bristolâ€™s 2021 Youth of the Year, has gone on to win the National Youth of the Year.
Parker was named the national Youth of the Year winner during a recent virtual ceremony, where she was joined by Boys & Girls Club alumni, teens and supporters.
â€śEverybody has the ability to make the right decision, but sometimes they need a positive influence to guide them in the right direction,â€ť said Parker.
Parker was previously named the local clubâ€™s Youth of the Year in April and went on to be named the State Youth of the Year in May and the Northeast Youth of the Year in June. As the National Youth of the Year winner, she will receive a brand-new Toyota Corolla and a $72,500 scholarship.
In her role as National Youth of the Year, Parker will serve as an official spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America and its Alumni & Friends Club. She will also have the opportunity to integrate herself as a part of Boys & Girls Clubs of Americaâ€™s Agenda for Americaâ€™s Youth, a policy platform focusing on critical issues and solutions impacting young people.
When Parker was first named the local Clubâ€™s Youth of the Year, she said that the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol changed her life for the better.
â€śI have no idea where I would be today without the support I have received over the past nine years,â€ť she said.
Parker first started coming to the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol when she was 9 years old.
â€śWhen I first started coming to the club I was definitely very nervous â€“ I had no idea what the club was at first, but as I started to come more and more and interact with staff members I started to feel good about myself,â€ť she said. â€śThey were always very generous and helpful to me.â€ť
Parker said the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol helped to support her through a very tough time in her life.
â€śMy mother struggled her whole life with drug addiction and when I was 15 she died of an overdose,â€ť Parker said. â€śNicole Stere, the teen director, helped a lot with the memorial we planned for my mom and let us use the clubâ€™s projector. They even donated some money after she passed.â€ť
This year, Parker accepted a job at the Boys & Girls Club of Bristol as a front desk associate. She is also a frequent volunteer there.
â€śIâ€™ve participated in almost every program we have at the club,â€ť said Parker. â€śFrom robotics, Cooking Club, Keystone to Torch Club and more
Parker said that the program she feels that may have been the most impactful on her is the Keystone Club program within the Bristol club. Members volunteer for civic service projects in the community and she said she â€śhighly recommendedâ€ť the program for those searching to learn social skills and leadership.
Outside of Club activities, Parker has studied HVAC at E.C. Goodwin Technical High School. She also enrolled at Central Connecticut State University, where she says she hopes to learn to become a social worker.
She said wants to help families and individuals overcome the challenges of substance abuse, to help with recovery and to assist children in coping with feelings of trauma.
For 74 years, the Youth of the Year program has recognized young people for their outstanding leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle. This year, the Youth of the Year program will award nearly half a million in scholarships to Club teens.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.youthoftheyear.org .
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or email@example.com.