Youth of the Year finalist: Ja’Keith Burton

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 1:38 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 31, 2023 at 1:39 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - We are just days away from learning who will be the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley’s Youth of the Year.

This week, we are introducing you to the five impressive finalists...including Ja’Keith Burton, who wants to be a graphic designer.

As Jason Dennis shows us, this Carver High School student has transformed thanks to the clubs.

“When I was younger...they welcomed me with full, open arms, basically helped me get here today, but mostly making me do stuff I wasn’t expecting myself to do, like be a leader in an activity,” said Ja’Keith Burton, Youth of the Year Finalist.

At 6 years old, Ja’Keith Burton started attending the South Boys and Girls Club in Columbus. He credits the staff for helping him change for the better. Now, at age 15, this former quiet kid is the one mentoring younger boys and girls, making them feel welcome at the club.

“The impact I hope I can have on them...making their day or putting a smile on their face,” said Burton. “Some kids are more social than others, so you gotta make sure you make sure they all feel the same.”

But Ja’Keith certainly stands out, as a 1st year finalist for Boys and Girls Clubs of the Chattahoochee Valley Youth of the Year, coming a long way from when he attended the club during elementary school.

“Back then, I didn’t want to say anything to anybody, I was shy and more to myself,” said Burton. “Now, I’m more social and actually talk more....and stuff like this, youth of the year, has helped me open up more...It made me want to do stuff more, even in school.”

And at Carver High School, this sophomore does horticulture projects and other activities through the Future Farmers in America. He plans to take that experience and a lifelong love for art to college and study visual arts.

“My interest in FFA would be going into graphic design, making different logos, for stuff that has to do with agriculture, but most of the things we do at Carver FFA is go to competitions.”

Competing to be youth of the year, with a resume at the boys and girls club that includes selling things off a special cart for younger kids and learning leadership through their Keystone Club.

“I want the kids in the club to be them. I want them to open up more...I basically want them to live and be kids as much as they can without worrying about getting in trouble for everything they do.”

The Youth of the year winner will be announced Thursday evening at the Bibb Mill Event Center.