Kimberly Heard

CONYERS — Kimberly Heard has taken another step forward in her quest to be named the Boys & Girls Clubs of America National Youth of the Year.

Heard, who in 2019 was named Youth of the Year for the Barksdale Boys & Girls Club in Conyers and Youth of the Year for the State of Georgia, has now been named Southeast Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. At the virtual Southeast Youth of the Year Celebration event, supported by Toyota, Heard was presented with a $20,000 college scholarship.

Heard has been recognized for her strong leadership and unwavering commitment to making a difference in her school, club and community.

“I didn’t fully understand the phrase ‘iron sharpens iron’ until I found a community where everyone is always trying to improve,” Heard said of her Boys & Girls Club experience. “Just by being a member, I have improved socially and academically. I’ve found another place I can call home. I can feel that my success is just as important to my Boys & Girls Club family as it is to myself.”

On Heard’s first day at the Boys & Girls Club, she participated in a poetry activity and was selected to perform both of her submissions. After her performance, Kimberly was encouraged by deafening cheers. She credits this moment with the realization of her voice and her power.

“Being National Youth of the Year would give me the ability to further spread the message that I have been advocating for years,” Heard said. “I have always tried to represent the concept of equality, and I have always fought for my beliefs. I will advocate for everyone, and I will do everything I can to change our country for the better.”

Heard’s participation in CareerBound, a career readiness program, and Money Matters, which teaches kids the principles of saving money, helped Heard broaden her horizons. She says the Keystone service and leadership program for high school students has taught her the value of giving back and making good choices.

Through Keystone, she learned to embrace connections with others, stand up for herself and to present as a leader. At the club, Heard enjoyed going “to the other side of the building” to help take care of the smaller kids.

Heard wants to advocate for kids who are under-represented, and improve the standard of equality in America. If she could change one thing in the world, she said it would be “improving the access of information in communities.”

“If there was more information on life beyond college, I feel like the success rate for students would be higher, but also the happiness of both students and adults,” said Heard.

Heard will continue on to contend for the National Youth of the Year title this fall, which comes with an additional $50,000 scholarship, a brand-new Toyota Corolla and the opportunity to serve as a spokesperson for Boys & Girls Clubs of America representing 4.6 million Club kids and teens.

Founded more than 70 years ago in 1947 as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club. The Youth of the Year recognition program is presented by Toyota.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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