Two teens from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Elkhart Club have been selected to perform on stage at the national Boys & Girls Clubs of America conference later this year.
Chyniah Woods and Marquavious Hill, both seniors at Elkhart High School, are among teens from eight clubs around the country to be invited. They were chosen after entering a national talent search competition.
Woods and Hill were told of the honor during a video call from Boys & Girls Clubs of America President and CEO Jim Clark.
“Chyniah is no stranger and does a lot of performing for us… but I had the chance, Marquavious, to watch a video with you. What a great job you do when it comes to artistic ability and performance,” Clark said. “We want to invite both of you this year to come down to sunny, warm Orlando to perform at our national conference.”
The conference is May 3-5. The duo will perform in front of 2,700 attendees. Both teens immediately accepted the invitation and couldn’t contain their excitement.
“It’s very shocking,” Hill said. “Between now and then I’m going to focus on my vocals. I want to make sure they’re 100 percent.”
This is the second year that Woods has won the competition. During the call, Clark gave Woods a second surprise.
“We’d also like to ask you to be our Youth Talent Ambassador for 2023,” he said. “Part of it is exactly what you do around the Club everyday: It’s mentoring the younger kids, the newer performers that are going to be there.”
Woods said she was surprised to be asked back for a second year and is excited about the new responsibilities.
“I still want to keep my mind humble. I know I can do it, and now I want to focus on giving this my all. I’m honored. Honestly, I am,” she said.
She said she learned a lot from the youth ambassador last year and wants to be that support for others.
“Jesse lifted me up with encouraging words of affirmation. That really helped me through it,” she said.
Hill joined the Club last year, after hearing about the music programs offered here and learning about Woods’ selection in the talent show in 2022.
“I saw the opportunity she had coming here. I thought there would be more opportunity for me to get involved,” he said. “Every step of the way, Club has lived up to my expectations.”
Hill’s interest in music started at a young age. He said he can’t really remember a time when he didn’t love music.
Woods said she has loved encouraging Hill at Club.
“I just want to keep encouraging him so that he has no doubts in his mind. He’s very talented,” she said.
Leaders at the Elkhart Club are thrilled that two members were chosen for the honor this year.
“We work every day to empower our young people to reach for the stars. This just shows the younger kids if you work hard and stick with it, great things can happen,” said Elkhart Area Director Whitney Miller.
Program Manager Kyla Kirkendoll, who worked with the teens on their entries, agreed.
“Look at the diamonds coming out of our Club. It’s a blessing and it’s exciting to see what Club offers and how it folds out for the members,” she said. “This movement is real and people need to know more about it. The Club is not just babysitting. It’s putting our members on that road to success.”