Selected as an exceptionally outstanding youth, Bayfield teen Taylor Morris has been named the Youth of the Year by the Boys and Girls Club of La Plata County. The Youth of the Year program recognizes youth who represent leadership, service, academic excellence and dedication to living a healthy lifestyle.
"Through service to others, dedication to her academic goals, and involvement in sports, Taylor Morris shows her commitment to personal growth and to building a strong community," said Megan Hayes, the club's unit director.
Taylor was one of twelve Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year finalists in the state vying for the Colorado Youth of the Year title at the end of March.
"My experience at the Youth of the Year Event was extremely eye-opening and formative," said Morris. I was able to meet a very diverse group of amazing, talented young people as well as enjoy experiences where I was able to look inside of myself and identify my passions at a deeper level."
A club member since she turned six years old, she grew up in Boys & Girls Clubs. She has completed dozens of club programs, including Leaders in Training and Junior Staff.
"As I grew older, the club became a huge place for me to grow and explore who I was," Morris said. "This was such a safe place for me. I never felt judged or unwanted and was able to really explore who I wanted to be. The way that the staff truly cared for me and all other club members on a personal level helped to make me feel important."
Morris is currently a freshman at the University of Denver studying molecular biology. She hopes to be a pediatric oncologist and to teach. Taylor volunteers with Café 180 and GrowHaus, two non-profit groups that focus on access to healthy food for all. Other service activities involve participating in highway cleanups, volunteering with Dream League Softball and being part of Rise Above Colorado's teen advisory committee.
Now in its 71st year, the Boys & Girls Club of America Youth of the Year program encourages youth to lead, succeed and inspire. The event, held on March 26 and 27 in Denver, included development opportunities for the youth which helped them to strengthen their personal brand, coached them in creating a positive social media presence and worked on their public speaking skills. The Colorado Youth of the Year honor was awarded to Malachi Haynes of the Boys & Girls Club of Metro Denver with a $5,000 college scholarship from Boys & Girls Clubs of America.