Teen overcomes early trauma to become Youth of the Year
Moore High School junior Javon Boston was placed in 17 different foster homes for the first six years of her life.In 2008, she was adopted at age 6 and, a few years later, began going after school to The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club. Since that time, Javon, now 17, says she has learned to overcome the insecurity and trauma of being passed through a succession of foster homes. She also has learned to take on leadership roles among her peers, both due in large part to the care and services offered through the club.
In April, Boston was named Youth of the Year by The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oklahoma and placed third in the statewide Boys & Girls Clubs competition.
“She has been through two Youth of the Year competitions. In the first competition, teens were eligible from three Boys & Girls Clubs that The Salvation Army is affiliated with. She had to interview with a panel of judges and give a three-minute speech. It was on her club experience, her personal brand and her vision for America’s youth,” said Melissa Brown, executive director of The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oklahoma.
“Then she went through the state competition at the Governor’s Mansion. She had to give her speech to a room full of people,” Brown added. She impressed the judges because of “her leadership here at the club, her story, her poise and the way she helps, not only the staff, but our advisory council.”
Boston’s speech described her transformation while at the club. She also detailed what she sees as the greatest detriment to today’s youths and laid out her vision for a better America.
Boston was given a $250 prize for winning the first competition and a $2,000 scholarship for placing in the statewide competition.
“Before, I didn’t have any leadership qualities. I learned a lot of leaderships skills (at the club) — mostly just learning to be courageous and brave and to have confidence,” she said.
'A lot of devotion'
Boston says she is passionate about children and teens in foster care, as well as improving professional development for social workers. Her Youth of the Year platform is to raise awareness and advocacy for teen adoption in foster care. Boston volunteered over 150 hours in 2018. She currently is her club’s Keystone vice president and previously served as Keystone secretary.
Keystone Club is Boys & Girls Clubs of America's premier teen leadership program and allows teens the opportunity to make leadership decisions, engage in academic and career experiences, and serve others under the guidance of club staff.
“I have to give advice 24/7. That’s not even at the club. It’s at school, too,” she said. “People come up to me with their problems. I have a lot of little kids ask me about things, especially since I teach dance. I help them the best way I can.”
Boston said she plans to enlist in the Air Force after high school to be a dog handler for security forces.
“Dogs are just friendly. Dogs don’t talk. They don’t have all that negativity. I wanted to do something that was exciting and that takes a lot of devotion,” she said.
For more information about the Youth of the Year program, go to www.youthoftheyear.org.