Janiyah Spruill, Europe's Military Youth of the Year
Janiyah Spruill, Europe's Military Youth of the Year (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — A Wetzel Teen Center youth recently became the first from the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Baumholder Child and Youth Services (CYS) program to earn Europe’s Military Youth of the Year (MYOY) award.

Janiyah Spruill competed against 12 other highly qualified candidates from around Europe for the honor announced by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA).

Held virtually April 19, the BGCA conducted a ceremony where Janiyah, along with the other youth members across military installations in Europe, faced a six panel board to showcase their writing, interview skills and public speaking abilities. During this ceremony, Janiyah was awarded the title of Europe MYOY.

Janiyah learning she won the Youth of the Year award.
Janiyah learning she won the Youth of the Year award. (Photo Credit: Jason Tudor ) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Janiyah is a self-starter who has a real genuine concern for her generation and has concrete ideas and clubs she has started to help advocate for them,” said Ryan Flynn, youth programs director at Baumholder CYS. “She is an easy leader and people are drawn to her for this ability. She also just has that spark. That ‘it factor.’ When you speak to her, you know there is something special happening there. She also put in the time and effort to get herself to this place. Practicing her speech and doing mock interviews on school out days, nights, weekends and spring break with family members or with staff at the youth program.”

Serving as student president, track captain and president of Baumholder's Legacy Keystone Club, Janiyah “is a passionate advocate for her generation,” added Jason Etchell, deputy director of the garrison’s Family and Morale, Welfare & Recreation directorate.

The Boys and Girls Club of America’s Youth of the Year program involves a competitive process in which Janiyah had to write essays and submit an application package to the BGCA national staff in Atlanta, GA.

“I had to write and compose four essays about different subjects, have some evidence of advocacy and change, make a resume, cover letter and compose my speech for the Europe competition,” explained Janiyah.

“I thank God for the powerful voice he’s blessed me with, my huge family that supports me through whatever and Mr. Ryan and the teen center for taking a chance on someone who wasn’t even at the teen center by choice,” added Janiyah.

Apart from the recognition, the award includes a $2,500 scholarship which Janiyah will use towards her college tuition.

“I plan on using it to help assist the enormous mountain we all climb known as college tuition,” she said. “My top college so far is the University of Oregon. I want to major in public relations/image management and have dreams to be an Olympian.”

Aside from being the first time a youth from Baumholder has been recognized at this level of the BGCA MYOY contest, the award “also highlights the dedicated youth development professionals that we have at our youth centers and the commitment they have to the youth we serve every day,” said Flynn.

Janiyah now advances to the Northeast Region Youth of the Year competition held in New York City this June.