It’s a repeat performance for Andrew Deal. He was chosen by a panel of judges to represent the Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County’s Middlebury Club as the Youth Of The Year.
Deal was selected last year as well. Youth Of The Year is the Boys & Girls Clubs’ signature effort to foster a new generation of leaders. It focuses on leadership skills such as communication, goal-setting and teamwork.
Candidates for the honor write several essays, participate in interviews with judges, prepare and deliver speeches, develop a resume of their activities and solicit letters of recommendation about their leadership and potential.
“I felt like I had more of grasp on it this time. I have a base knowledge, so it was perfecting my work. I also changed some of it, so it was more understandable to the people who are reading it,” he said.
Project organizers from the Clubs in Middlebury, Nappanee, Goshen and Elkhart worked together this year to provide all the candidates opportunities to work together on their projects for the individual Clubs. They also brought in speakers and mentors from the community to help.
“The workshops help put my knowledge to the test and improved my skills. I liked hearing from the judges’ standpoint. We’re just looking at things from a competitive standpoint, but when we hear it from judges, it helps shape how we present the information about ourselves,” Deal said.
Middlebury Program Manager Rhonda Eicher said Deal is a natural leader around the Clubhouse. She said it’s a good fit to have him represent the Club in the community.
“As he’s maturing, he sets that tone for other members. He takes that seriously and he wants the other members to grow and take things seriously, too.”
Deal said going through the process a second time helped him understand how he’s grown and changed.
“I think my outlook on different topics has changed so my essays have changed – hopefully for the better. I’ve got more experiences to reference and work with,” he said.
Eicher said Deal has grown throughout the process.
“He feels more responsibility because he has more eyes on him. He wants to make sure we do great things and other teens do things not only here in the club, but in the community as well. He wants to make that impact and is passionate about that,” she said.
Deal will now compete with teens from the other Clubs. One will be selected by judges to represent the county at the state competition later this year.
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