This week on a mini segment of This Is New England, Latoyia had a chance to meet an exceptional teen. Alton Jenkins is the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston’s Youth of the Year. He is also Youth of the Year for all of the Boys & Girls Clubs in Massachusetts. Here is their conversation:
Latoyia: You’re a senior at Weston High and a member of the Yawkey Boys & Girls Club in Roxbury. How long have you been going there and what programs have you been involved in?
Alton: I have been a member here at the club for 12 years now and I don’t think there’s a program I haven’t at least dipped my foot into. I definitely started along the leadership pipeline: Young Leaders, Torch Club, Keystone…started my first basketball program here at the Manny Wilson Educational Basketball Program. Young Men’s Club, music programs, just everything.
Latoyia: You know Alton, I was reading…a quote from you talking about the club. You called it your home. Tell me about that a little bit more. What makes it feel like home to you?
Alton: What honestly separates the club from everywhere else, not just in the city of Boston, but honestly in the world to me, is that it’s not just an after-school place. It’s not somewhere where parents and schools just send their kids off until they can pick them up later. It’s truly a place where you can harness all your creative energy and all the passion in the things you want to achieve in the world and bring them out.
Latoyia: Alton, part of the magic of your club, in particular, is its leader. Tell me about her.
Alton: Ms. Andrea Swain. The one and only. There is nobody else in the world like her. She has been the leader of my village ever since I stepped through the front doors of the club here when I was six years old. And she continues to lead the charge as I’m transitioning into some post-secondary success. And everyone who follows in her direction is taking their path to success and greatness. And without her leadership, I would not be here in front of you today.
Latoyia: Absolutely. How has the club impacted your life?
Alton: It’s honestly given me the foundation and the vision to succeed in my future. College was always something in the front of my mind that I knew my parents and my family wanted me to achieve, but it was those long steps along the way: going to college tours, having conversations with admissions counselors, understanding the importance of studying for tests and taking tests and doing well on them, and making college that much more accessible to me.
For more on Alton's reaction to receiving Youth of the Year, what comes along with the honor, and what's next for Alton, watch the video above.
The Massachusetts Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Virtual Youth of the Year Celebration was sponsored by Comcast. Comcast is the parent company of NBC10 Boston and NECN.