AP NEWS

Pee Dee Youth of the Year a boost for Hemingway student

April 8, 2019

HEMINGWAY, S.C. – Bryanna Williams has attended the Rick and Susan Goings Boys & Girls Club in Hemingway for the past 3½ years. And earlier this year, she was named the club’s Youth of the Year.

Little did Williams know, her local Youth of the Year competition was just practice for the Pee Dee Youth of the Year Competition, which she also was fortunate to win on March 2.

During the local competition, Williams said she competed against one other student. Both students gave a speech, and she said it went smoothly.

But at the Pee Dee competition, Williams said many more people were in attendance and competing.

“The parents were there. The judges were there,” she said. “There were more judges than anything else. There were a lot of judges.

Williams was interviewed by a panel of judges, and she gave a speech at the Pee Dee Youth of the Year competition held at the Florence Boys & Girls Club.

“My speech was about me moving from home to home, from foster care to foster care,” Williams said. “Basically my life story of how I got from Texas to South Carolina. And what was my thinking process and how I felt about the movements and what I went through.”

She has lived in South Carolina since she was 9.

Attending the Boys & Girls Club has impacted Williams in a couple different ways, she said.

“One is I communicate more clearly and I trust,” Williams said. “Basically they led me to trust more people in my life, which I really hadn’t when I first started going here.”

Being on the basketball court is what Williams said she likes most about going to the club. She is on the basketball team at Hemingway High School.

Williams said former Rick and Susan Goings Boys & Girls Club director Andre Dorsey taught her how to dribble more and be more coordinate with her left hand.

Pee Dee Youth of the Year is more than just a title for Williams.

“Being Youth of the Year means to me that I can have my voice heard, and people can know my story around the world and every kid who is like me,” she said.

Rick and Susan Goings Boys & Girls Club Director Latoria Lewis said so many thoughts run through her mind when she thinks of Williams.

“She’s such an exceptional candidate, because of her triumph over all of her obstacles,” Lewis said. “You talk about a girl who had issues with her anger, anxiety, trust. There were so many different things that she literally overcame, and seeing that she is a product of the Hemingway Boys & Girls Club, it gives us great pride. It gives us that sense of hope that everyone can definitely succeed and overcome their internal battles.”

Lewis said she is proud that Williams has been able to position herself where her past cannot dictate her future.

“She’s winning so many different things right now and being celebrated, and it’s just an overwhelming moment of joy,” Lewis said.

Williams said she will compete in the state Youth of the Year competition later this month in Myrtle Beach.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of America Youth of the Year program has honored and celebrated the nation’s most inspiring teens and their journeys for nearly 70 years.