BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA) -- - Every year a local organization chooses one of the children they serve to put them up on a pedestal as an example. There are a number of reasons why a local teen distinguished herself as the Boys and Girls Club of Benton County Youth of the Year.
"I started out as soon as I could get started," Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton County 2018 Youth of the Year Imana Junior shared.
Bentonville High School Sophomore Imana Junior was introduced to the Boys and Girls Club of Benton County when she was five years old. That was ten years ago.
Now she is thriving as a leader at the Club and was recently selected as the 2018 Youth of the Year. That is not a distinction you earn by hanging around in the background.
"No, not really," Junior explained. "I've always been really outgoing and the Club kind of helped that because they put me in an area where I was surrounded by other kids and that gave me the chance to bond with other kids."
"We look for individuals who do live out the mission here at the Boys and Girls Clubs," Boys and Girls Club of Benton County CEO Sarah Heimer said. "And, like I said, We do focus on character and leadership, academic success and healthy lifestyles."
Boys and Girls Club of Benton County CEO Sarah Heimer says Imana established herself during the selection process for Youth of the Year as the best of the best.
"It is a member who is basically found to be superior in all areas," Junior shared.
Imana says she drew inspiration for her efforts from those like Fernie Alcantara, who came before her as Youth of the Year. Upon learning she won this year's distinction she did exactly what you might expect.
"I almost cried," Junior admitted. "I was holding back tears and I was really excited but like, instantly in my mind I was like I have to go call my mom. Like I have to go call her."
Imana credits the impact of the club with the type of person she is today.
"Here, I really learned like who I was really meant to be and I gained my confidence through the Boys and Girls Club have most definitely been a big part of who I am," Junior said.
Imana will be honored at the Youth of the Year fundraising event on Thursday at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. After that, she will compete at the state level for the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year.
Click here to learn more about Thursday's event as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Benton County.
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