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LOCAL TEEN NAMED MARYLAND YOUTH OF THE YEAR BY BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA

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Released 14 March 2010

LOCAL TEEN NAMED MARYLAND YOUTH OF THE YEAR BY BOYS & GIRLS CLUBS OF AMERICA

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Annapolis, Md., March 9, 2010 - Najee Banks, a 10-year member of Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club of Baltimore, was named the Youth of the Year for the state of Maryland by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) today by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley at the State Capitol. In addition to winning this prestigious title, Banks also will receive a $1,500 scholarship from the Reader's Digest Foundation. He was one of 14 Maryland program finalists and is among hundreds of Youth of the Year winners across the country recognized by BGCA for his sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. The title recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as personal challenges and obstacles overcome.

"The Reader's Digest Foundation has been the proud sponsor of the Youth of the Year program since 1947," said Susan Fraysse Russ, executive director, Reader's Digest Foundation.  "For over 60 years, we have had the great honor of saluting amazing teens like Najee Banks for dedication to their families, Club, community, and their academic and career goals."

Born and raised in West Baltimore, Najee, 16, faced and overcame several challenges; however, he remains positive and optimistic about his family circumstances and his future prospects. As a young child, his grandmother taught him important lessons about service to others and community, which continue to influence his decisions and actions.

Najee is a fourth-generation member of the Franklin Square Unit of the Salvation Army BGC of Baltimore. An active Club member, Banks regularly mentors younger members and assists them with their homework when he is not organizing performing arts activities with his peers. A gifted musician, Banks taught himself to play piano, guitar, and drums.

An honor roll student at Edmondson Westside High School, Banks has selected media and communications as his trade in high school. He also loves history and plans to pursue a career in archeology and attend St. Mary's College.

Najee and all Youth of the Year nominees are living proof that Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are fulfilling their mission of inspiring and enabling young people," said Roxanne Spillett, president, BGCA. "We are most appreciative to the Reader's Digest Foundation for their long-time support of our Youth of the Year program and for helping Club members attain their goals."

This summer, Banks will compete against other youth from states located in BGCA's Northeast Region. If named regional winner, he will be awarded a $10,000 college scholarship and advance to the national competition in Washington, D.C. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 college scholarship and will be installed by President Barack Obama during a ceremony in the Oval Office.

            As the founding sponsor of the Youth of the Year program, the Reader's Digest Foundation has given nearly $8 million towards BGCA and 62 teens have been selected as the National Youth of the Year. For more information about the Youth of the Year program, visit www.bgca.org/yoy.

 


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