Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis names Youth Of The Year winner

Local Good News

(BOYS & GIRLS CLUB NEWS RELEASE) – Jyahyara Lawson has overcome obstacles since her cancer diagnosis at age 8 and her ADHD diagnosis in elementary school. “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love” is her moto in school and life.

Youth of the Year is the highest award available in the Boys & Girls Clubs organization. Five exemplary members of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis competed in interviews on February 5th, 2020 in the categories of: My Club Experience, What Matters to Me, and Overcoming Obstacles. Community leaders representing branches of industry and philanthropy evaluated the students based on: the candidates’ three written essays, 9 minute interview session with the judges, public speaking, and overall application quality. This year’s presenting sponsor of the event is HigherVisibility, a leading digital marketing firm in the Memphis area.

Jyahyara is a senior at Kingsbury High School where she is a member of the school’s newspaper staff and varsity track team. She has been a member of Ira Samelson Boys & Girls Club for three years. She is a member of the Torch Club and leader within the Notes for Notes Music Studio within the Samelson Club.

When asked to share about her Club Experience, “When I arrived to the Club I struggled with anxiety in social situations and a huge fear of engaging with others. However, the staff made sure I was safe and comfortable. From the moment I entered the club staff greeted me with excitement. I felt their energy and it made me excited about being a part of the club.”

Before coming to the club, Jyahyara’s internal struggles caused anxiety in social situations. She has an incredible fear of engaging with others. However, she credits participating in Boys & Girls Clubs programming for helping her connect with her feelings and become courageous enough to come out of her shell. At a very young age she was diagnosed with cancer but faith, hard work and a steady support system has enabled her to beat the odds and live a full, healthy and active life. She plans to attend South West College after high school and becoming a licensed cosmetologist.

The purpose of the Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Contest is to select a student who exemplifies the mission of the organization and to serve as a spokesperson. Each club representative received a gift and recognition certificate.

Thank you to this year’s community partners that served as judges for the evening:

Ericka Milford HigherVisibility
Kaitlyn McKay HigherVisibility
Mohamed Bah HigherVisibility
Victoria Jackson HigherVisibility
Scott Calk Black Tie Moving
Zach Pretzer Methodist Healthcare Foundation
Bianca Sweeten Comprehensive Medical Associates
Egon Rinderer Tanium
Lakethen Mason The Winsum Agency

2020 Youth of the Year Contestants:

  • Ashley Alvarez a freshman at White Station High School, representing the Sycamore View Club
  • Camille Wilson a sophomore at Bluff City High School, representing the Bernal E. Smith Sr. Club
  • Jyahyara Lawson a senior at Kingsbury High School, representing the Ira Samelson Jr. Club
  • Patricia Noel, a senior at Oakhaven High School, representing the Oakhaven Club
  • LaStacia Cloyd, a senior at Central High School, representing the John Dustin Buckman Club

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis

The Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Memphis mission is to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens. The Memphis Clubs serve more than 4,900 members between the ages of 6 and 18 each year by providing the fun experiences and critical guidance kids need to build bright futures. The Boys & Girls Clubs, Great Futures Start Here: visit to learn more and follow us on or 

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