Powell named Youth of the Year

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BRATTLEBORO — Isabella "Bella" Powell, a 16-year-old sophomore at Brattleboro Union High School, has been named the 2020 Youth of the Year by the Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro. Powell was honored at a recent ceremony following a lengthy application and interview process this spring. A fifth-grader at Academy School, 11-year-old Eason DeMarsico, has been named the Jr. Youth of the Year winner.

Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. Club members are judged on their achievements in academics, healthy lifestyles, leadership, character, and service, as well as obstacles overcome. As the local honoree, Powell received a $500 scholarship to be used at the college of her choice, provided by Brattleboro Memorial Hospital.

Powell credits the Boy & Girls Club with improving her communication skills, giving her opportunities to become a team leader and helping her work with others in Club groups such as Keystone, which is the teen leadership group, and Smart Girls, which teaches young girls about their bodies, relationships, and their mental and physical health.

The Club was also a lifeline when Powell was in seventh grade, requiring her to be faced with many physical and emotional challenges. "I have been through so much in life that it is not even funny! It was incredibly helpful to be able to share what I was going through with the Club staff and my peers there," she remembered.

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"I was a shy girl just trying to get by," recalled Powell of her introduction to the club in fifth grade. "I didn't really talk to anyone and had few friends. When I was introduced to the Boys and Girls Club it soon became a second home to me," Powell said. "All of the obstacles I had experienced showed me how to adapt to things that are new. The staff always looked out for my best interests," she recalled. "They showed me to never give up, to advocate for myself and to help others."

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The Club's unit director, Jes Wright, was Powell's mentor through the application and interview process. "I have had the pleasure of watching Bella grow into a leader and the person she is today. I have seen her overcome many obstacles in the last three and a half years and she has done so with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye," states Wright. "Bella is going to do great things in her life and I can only hope that I can help mentor her through every step."

Powell identified homelessness and food security as two of the problems in the world that she wants to tackle. "I know firsthand what it is like to not know where you are going to live next, or if you are going to get your next meal," Powell explained. "It hurts me to think that anyone else has to feel that way. I intend to use my voice to advocate for changes, run my own food drive at the Club, and learn the skills I need to address the causes of homelessness and food insecurity," she promised.

Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, Powell will compete virtually on July 15, for the title of State of Vermont Youth of the Year and a $5,000 scholarship. As the Youth of the Year for The Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, Powell is one of the hundreds of youth across the country recognized by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) for their character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

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If Powell wins the state competition in July she will compete in New York City for the title of Northeast Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship. The five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., later in the year, to compete for the title of BGCA's National Youth of the Year, a $15,000 college scholarship presented by President Donald Trump in an Oval Office ceremony.

DeMarsico is a member of Torch Club, which is the junior leadership group, and has been going to the club for nearly five years. He loves to play ping pong and basketball at the Club. He is a role model for others, helping out whenever he sees a need and is always learning something new. The Jr. Youth of the Year competition is a scaled-down version of the Youth of the Year competition.

DeMarsico had to write an essay and have an interview with a panel of judges.


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