MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Teens from various Boys and Girls Clubs across Asia gathered at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, for the 2016 Asia Keystone Conference and selection of the 2016 Asia Military State Youth of the Year, April 12-15, 2016.
The 2016 Asia Conference hosted by the Keystone Club and the Boys and Girls Club of America, allowed teenagers to interact with others from across the pacific region while engaging in activities and granting the winner of the Youth of the Year award a $5,000 scholarship.
Ed Brown, director for organizational development in Asia for the Boys and Girls Club of America, said having teens witness this process will encourage them to participate.
“The purpose behind getting all these kids together and having them watch the selection process of the Youth of the Year is to inspire them,” said Brown. “The reason why we wrap the Youth of the Year selection process and the Keystone Conference into one event is to get more kids from all over Asia here. This allows more children to interact while participating in various activities and lets them watch their peers compete to be the next Youth of the Year and hopefully influence them to do the same.”
Candidates and other members of the Keystone Club met at the Boys and Girls Club of Iwakuni for lunch then departed for Hiroshima where they enjoyed a day of shopping, dining and exploring Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park, a tribute to World War II.
Next, the teens tested their strengths in a fitness competition followed by a game of bowling at Iwakuni’s Strike Zone.
Finally, candidates sat through an interviewing process and gave a speech on why they should be the next Youth of the Year. Judges then collaborated and came to a final decision.
Maya Pugh, a teen from Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, rose victorious in claiming the title of 2016’s Asia State Military Youth of the Year.
“It hasn’t even settled in yet,” said Pugh. “My platform was confidence, and growing up I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. Once I found out how to be confident in myself, I wanted to go out there and help other teens find theirs as well.”
Brown said this event is important because not only is it an investment in the children, but it is also an investment into the future.
“Anyone of these kids could be the next Col. Boucher or even the President!” said Brown. “Whatever they want to be, we are preparing them right now through this process.”
To sign your child up in the Boys and Girls Club of Iwakuni, contact the Youth and Teen Center at 253-4803.