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Club plays big role in her life

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POSTED November 7, 2017 12:50 a.m.

Academic Success, Good Character and Citizenship, and Healthy Lifestyles – these are the primary outcomes that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America strive to ensure for every child who becomes a Club member.
Kiana Watson, the 2016 Youth of the Year for the Boys and Girls Club of Manteca, has made each of these ideals a reality for herself. Her inspiring journey began at the Club some seven years ago, when she was 10.
“When I first began attending the Club I was very timid and didn’t know any other Club members, “Kiana recalls.  “But then I met some of my first friends and they showed me around the Club.”
 Soon, Kiana became active in Torch Club, which is geared for Club members aged 10 to 13 years old. There, Kiana joined other Club members in reaching out to the community, and participated in a variety of activities, including the Kids in a Box program at the Raymus House homeless shelter.
“We slept overnight in a box and spent time with the kids who actually lived in the shelter,” she explains. “We made a statement that kids don’t belong in boxes.”
During her time in Torch Club, Kiana began to evolve into a leader, serving as Secretary, and becoming a role model to other members. She also learned to embrace added responsibilities and important skills like good customer service and time management while serving as a member of the Junior Staff, where she assisted Club employees.
“The staff plays a major role in my life,” she points out. “They always have time for you.”
 Kiana’s experience in Torch Club gave her all the confidence she needed to keep building on that early success in helping other kids and the community. As she grew older, Kiana moved on to the Keystone Club, a service club for teens 14 to 18 years old, and took on additional leadership roles, serving, in turn, as that club’s Secretary, then its Vice-President and President.  
Kiana wants to be an advocate for Boys and Girls Club, to help spread the word of how positive an influence the Club can be in the lives of the young people it serves.
“The Club kids and staff are so proud of Kiana,” remarks Jeanie Miller, Executive Director. “She is a role model for our younger kids, always willing to the help the kids and staff when needed. Kiana has a great future ahead of her.”
Now a senior in high school, Kiana has always excelled in school and recently visited Stanford University; wisely, she to take her time in making the right choice about her future.
“This whole experience has definitely put me on the right path,” Kiana says, smiling.

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