COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - The Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley will soon announce their Youth of the Year, the non-profit’s highest honor.
News Leader 9 is introducing you to the eight impressive young women and men. One of those finalists is Amiya Cook, who is quick on and off the track.
“It feels like I’m at home, I’m at peace,” said Cook.
Cook is talking about when she’s at the Boys and Girls Club in Columbus. The 15-year-old, a sophomore at Carver High School, has been attending the clubs since she was six years old. Now, she mentors younger girls and boys there.
She’s gotten help herself at Boys and Girls Clubs - in good times and bad.
"When I was going through things, the staff would reach out to me and tell me everything would be ok. That's what family does,” Cook said.
Dayra Brown, an art specialist at the club, remembers Cook being very quiet at first, but sees the teenager’s personality blossom.
"She's outspoken and she's never afraid to be herself,” Brown said.
This Youth of the Year finalist said she’s a well-rounded student and is involved with a lot after school at the club too.
Cook mentioned, “Empower Youth of Columbus (EYC). We do a lot of stuff, arts and crafts, and we learn and get help with our homework.”
"I used to be shy and I talk fast. It helps me a lot to slow down,” Cook said.
But she’s definitely not slow as a member of the Carver track team, even challenging others to sprints at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I race people here,” Cook said. When asked if she usually wins, it was a quick “Yes."
Cook won against a staff member and then the speedy teen sprinted against News Leader 9 anchor Jason Dennis – dressed in a suit. It was a clear loss for this news anchor. Cook being at these clubs has proven to be a win for the Boys and Girls Club.
"When we need help in staff in our different program areas, she’s always there helping us,” Brown said.
Cook’s hope is to be the next Youth of the Year, with even bigger goals for the future.
“I want to be an attorney. I need to stop following other people and keep my head on straight," Cook said.
The Youth of the Year award is being handed out February 7. WTVM is proud to be the media sponsor for the Boys & Girls Clubs event.