Club names Youth of the Year
BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Friday, March 8, 2019
A 16-year-old Rocky Mount High School student won the top honor of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region.
Nia Ewuell on Thursday evening received the 2019 Youth of the Year Award at a gathering at the Booker T. Theater. Ewuell received a $1,000 scholarship and a laptop computer.
Ewuell was both elated and quite surprised immediately afterward, saying, “The Boys & Girls Club really has done a lot for me. It really has changed my life. And I just hope that I can go and I can change other youths’ lives because that’s all I want to do.
“I want to do more for my community, more for my people, my race, my culture,” Ewuell said. “I want to do more for Rocky Mount.”
Ewuell emphasized in order for one to want to succeed he or she has to actually want others to succeed with him or her. Ewuell emphasized one can’t reach the top by himself or herself and has to have a team and friends and has to encourage everybody.
Euwell is going to go to the statewide Youth of the Year competition, which is going to be held March 22-23 at the adjacent Rocky Mount Event Center.
During her remarks at a presentation earlier in Thursday evening’s gathering, Ewuell spoke about the Boys & Girls Clubs teaching her to be strong throughout her obstacles. Euwell told the gathering her biological parents were frequently incarcerated.
She also said the Boys & Girls Clubs taught her how to be respectful and independent. She also said through her experience she has learned the great skill of leadership.
She also said she learned through her creativity, faith and her artistic and musical abilities she can encourage and uplift other youths.
Coming in second was Serenity Battle, 15, and also a student at Rocky Mount High School. Battle received a $500 scholarship.
Battle wept as she began speaking to the gathering, saying she had been bullied in the past.
Battle said the first day at the Boys & Girls Clubs she was sitting in the corner, by herself as usual, until a staff member approached and made her feel as though she cared about her. She said that moment changed everything for her.
She said she is no longer fearful, but fearless, and said her desire is to make sure all youths have self confidence and know their worth. She also said she helps the younger children with their homework.
Additionally, she made clear her vision for America’s youth is stop the gun violence.
“Our youth are killing each other over something as small as $5 or a post on social media,” she said.
Third place went to Caleb Woodard, 14, who’s a student at Nash Central High School. Woodard received a $250 scholarship.
Woodard told the gathering of participating in DEAR (Drop and Everything and Read) and getting better with his reading and comprehension.
Woodard also told of getting to go on a trip to Washington, D.C., which helped him to understand and better appreciate history.
He also told of participating in a culinary arts program through Nash Community College and also told of participating in a week of robotics at NCC. He also told of participating in Teen Court.
The featured speaker was James Sledge, 50, an Enfield native and a former educator in Rocky Mount who’s with the National Education Association.
Sledge gave an analogy about running a marathon and sought to connect about being prepared, working hard, keeping ones eyes on the goal, staying focused and winning the race.
Sledge emphasized the winner thanking those who walked down the path before him or her.
And he also emphasized remembering those who made the earlier sacrifices.
“Sometimes it’s the mother who never let her child understand the struggles that it takes to keep him in those sneakers that cost more than she makes in an entire week,” he said. “Sometimes it’s the father who works three jobs just to keep the roof over their heads.”
“Sometimes it’s a teacher — I like that — who sees something special in you and sacrifices a little more time just to help you along the way,” he said. “Or sometimes it’s a community member who becomes your support system and makes sure you don’t fail.”
During the Youth of the Year gathering, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region also announces a hero award to a person who has done much for the organization.
On Thursday evening, the 2019 honor was presented to Rocky Mount Mayor David Combs.