Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands YouTube. Henry-Fewell has had an enriching experience at her local Boys & Girls Club, and was rewarded for discussing how her experiences have changed her life.
Image courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands YouTube. Henry-Fewell has had an enriching experience at her local Boys & Girls Club, and was rewarded for discussing how her experiences have changed her life.
Tanatswa Chivero

Westside Student Receives “Youth of the Year” Award from Hawkins Family Boys & Girls Club

Junior Kennedy Henry-Fewell recently won the “Youth of the Year” award for the second time at her local Boys & Girls Club, an organization that enables young people to have a safe space for enriching, structured opportunities they might otherwise not have. 

Henry-Fewell grew up attending the Hawkins Family Boys & Girls Club, which is partnered with District 66 and attached to Westbrook Elementary School. 

“I was born into the club,” Henry-Fewell said. “My mom worked there, so I’ve [been there] a really long time. It’s become my second home over the years that I’ve been going there. I do a lot; I get a lot of homework done there, I get service hours there, I get to meet new people all the time and I do different programs.”

Henry-Fewell explained that the award was based on a speech given about how the Club has changed her life, and included a scholarship to fund her future endeavors. 

“You give a speech about basically your club experience and how the club has helped you,” Henry-Fewell said. “And then there’s a panel of judges, and you give this speech in front of them… then one on one you answer questions with them. At the end, they decide who won. So I won, and I got the scholarship.” 

Henry-Fewell said that the scholarship will be incredibly helpful in her future plans. 

“Esthetician or cosmetology school… that’s like what I’ve been dead set on for like a couple years now,” Henry-Fewell said. “That’s what I will use the scholarship money for. While I’m not 100% sure what I want to do in my future, [the Club] is still helping me to figure it out. If I go back and decide to get my degree in something, I could use [the scholarship] for that as well.”

In her speech, Henry-Fewell wrote about the impact that Boys & Girls Club has had on her life. 

“I really did talk about the Club a lot in my speech and how it’s helped me in all the different programs that I’ve learned,” Henry-Fewell said. “The connections I’ve built there are so so strong, and the way I’m able to go there and ask for help and then get homework done and get service hours is really big for me. When you’re a teen [at the Club], you get so many different opportunities with college and careers. It’s such a big help for people like me who don’t know where they want to go, don’t know what they want to do yet.”

On a personal note, Henry-Fewell said the Club helped her gain confidence in herself. 

“The club helped me find my voice- I wasn’t always outgoing and able to like, speak to new people,” Henry-Fewell said. “When I was younger I was very quiet, and I had a hard time sticking up for myself or just voicing my opinion. So I covered how the Club is helping me become a stronger young woman, like figuring out how to use my voice in a respectful and responsible way, and how it’s also helping me determine what I want to do.”

The competition itself has taught Henry-Fewell critical skills that she otherwise wouldn’t have gotten. 

“It’s helped me so much, I don’t think I’d ever be able to put in words how much this competition has helped me grow,” Henry-Fewell said. “It’s crazy. It’s taught me public speaking. I get told I’m very good at public speaking, and I think it’s because of this competition. 

Henry-Fewell said she was exceptionally excited that the judges were blindly picked, and didn’t have any existing relationships with her. 

“Winning made me feel very good because I know I wasn’t just getting picked just because everyone knows me,” Henry-Fewell said. “That’s why I love it so much more. There are people that don’t know who I am, but I get to show them who I am and I get to show them how the club has changed my life and how it’s made me the person I am today, and how it can continue to change other kids’ lives.

Henry-Fewell said that the Club carries many opportunities, and urged younger members and those not registered to take advantage of these opportunities.

“Just keep going and branch out and meet new people at the club and just talk to everyone you can,” Henry-Fewell said. “Once you get to being a teen there are so so many opportunities, especially when it comes to college. I can’t even tell you how many different college tours and stuff that I’ve been on just because I’m a member of the club. There are so many opportunities that you get. It’s just amazing.”

As Youth of the Year for the Hawkins Family Boys & Girls Club, Henry-Fewell will continue giving her inspiring speech at the metro area level on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at the UNO Scott Conference Center, where she intends to become organizational Youth of the Year.

Donate to Westside Wired

Your donation will support the student journalists of Omaha Westside High School. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Westside Wired