The young man chosen to represent Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, Khaai Wilson, has been selected from among five outstanding candidates to be named Kansas Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
The honor recognizes leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle.
As the Kansas Youth of the Year, Khaai will serve as ambassador all for teens in the state, will receive a $3,500 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America and will advance to compete in the regional Youth of the Year event and potentially, the national event.
“We are incredibly proud of Khaai and all the Youth of the Year nominees,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “Being named Youth of the Year is a lifelong honor and accomplishment. As the Kansas Youth of the Year, Khaai will serve as a spokesperson for Boys & Girls Club kids and teens across the state who need more role models that they can admire and emulate.”
Along with Khaai, representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Central Kansas, other candidates for the state honor included honorees from Lawrence, Manhattan, Topeka, and Hutchinson. McConnell Air Force Base was also represented in the Military Youth of the Year category.
Speeches, essays and interviews
The state competition, held in Topeka, started the day with judging participants on their speeches, essays, and interviews with the panel of judges. When not in interviews, the candidates had the chance to have friendly debates, play games, and get to know each other.
In the afternoon, they took a field trip to tour Stormont Vail hospital, where they participated in “Stop the Bleed” life-saving training.
The day concluded with the evening’s ceremony where all six candidates gave their speeches to the crowd of fans, donors, family members, and elected officials at the Townsite Tower in downtown Topeka.
Khaai confidently spoke on his personal growth story of adoption and self-confidence. He expressed his gratitude for his parents and the Club and their impact on his development as a leader and voice for his Club.
‘I not only know who I am but why I wake up every day’
Khaai completed his speech by saying, “Thanks to the Boys & Girls Club, I not only know who I am, but why I wake up every day. I am Khaai Wilson, proudly adopted, varsity athlete, straight A student, and a rep of the Wichita Heights High School Avid class of 2025. I want to be a role model for my generation. I want to make my family and friends proud. I am confident I can be a leader of this generation because I have learned the key to success- that is to be yourself, because no one else is a better version of you, than you are.”
This summer, Khaai will join other state Youth of the Year candidates to vie for the Southwest Regional title. If named the regional Youth of the Year, he will be awarded an additional $20,000 college scholarship. Five finalists will advance to the National Youth of the Year event, to vie for the title of Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $50,000 scholarship and a brand-new Toyota Corolla.