Red Lake teenager selected to compete for the Minnesota Youth of the Year title. Cody J. Roberts was selected as Youth of the Year for Red Lake Boys and Girls Club. Roberts will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members from across the state for the Minnesota Youth of the Year title and a $1,000 scholarship from the Reader’s Digest Foundation. Roberts is among hundreds of local youth across the country recognized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) with the club’s highest honor, given to youth who demonstrate sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.
Winners of the state competition go onto compete for the title of the Midwest Region Youth of the Year and an additional $10,000 scholarship. The five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September 2010, to compete for the title of BGCA’s National Youth of the Year. The National Youth of the Year receives an additional $15,000 scholarship and is instated with the National title through an oval office ceremony with President Obama.
During the recent Red Lake State of the Band Address Roberts was acknowledged by band members and tribal chairman Floyd “Buck” Jourdain for his achievement as Red Lake Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year. Senior staff member, Jon Roberts, Mentor and Recreation Specialist said, “Its rare to see somebody his age get along with everybody, he usually gets along with the youngest to the oldest.” Cody Roberts popularity as staff member is undeniable. Youth shout out his name when he walks into Power-Hour (a club homework and learning program), some demand his one on one attention for help with reading or flash cards. In the club’s daily Free-Time he is often seen in the gym with an admiring group of youth smiling and chasing him around, squealing if they can catch up to him.
Raised in Red Lake, he is a tribal member and part of the Kingfisher clan, he is also the oldest of three children. It is important to him to spend time with his siblings. As the big brother he enjoys his being a role model and teaching them “survival skills” “Just last weekend I showed my little brother how to play (the X BOX) 360,” he says with a huge smile. Roberts good humor and amiable nature renders directly into his youth relations skills at the Red Lake Boys and Girls Club. Roberts has been a club member since 3rd grade and said, “I joined the club because I wanted to try other things.” Now as staff at the club he feels, “It’s the kids that keep me working here, I like keeping the kids happy. I don’t get paid for piggy back rides but I do it anyway.
As a descendent of two respected grandfathers they have become role models positively influencing him. He admires his grandfathers John Sumner, who serves as one of the seven Hereditary Chiefs for the tribe and the other Bobby Whitefeather, a former Tribal Chairman. Attesting to his grandfathers influence with my grandfather, Bobby Whitefeather he said, “It means a lot to me that someone succeeded past high school, and for him to be that important is something for me to look up to, and with my grandfather, John Sumner, it means a lot to me to have someone that is involved with community”.
As a sophomore at Red Lake High School he is on the B Honor roll. “I focus on my schoolwork first and make plans later. Currently I’m on B honor roll and I’m working my way back up to A honor roll.” Staying strong on the path to graduation he has started considering his plans for college. “Everybody around here dreams of being a great basketball player, so I figure you got dream of something and I thought it would be cool to be a game designer, and go to a school for design.”
Through MNCep, a youth-work program Roberts started at the club during their seasonal summer jobs and when asked if he wanted to continue on part time during the school year Roberts agreed. Reflecting back on that time nearly a year ago, RLBGC staff members repeatedly commented on how Cody has been able to overcome his initial shyness as staff member and open up and mature. The RLBGC staff described him as very deserving of the Youth of the Year Award. Mentor and Recreation Specialist Jon Roberts described Cody’s youth of the year qualities best, he said “He is different from other teenagers he realizes he is being watched so he’s really respectful, with the youth he makes them feel part of the group like they are fitting in no matter the circumstance.”
As part of the award he has participated in a training program with the other candidates learning skills in public speaking prepping them for the competition. The BGCA Minnesota Youth of the Year Award competition takes place April 25-27 in St. Paul. This national club program was founded over 60 years ago through the generosity of the Reader’s Digest Foundation.