Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year: Finalist Makaylah Robinson

Updated: Feb. 15, 2017 at 6:08 PM EST
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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Youth of the Year is the highest recognition bestowed on a single member of the Boys & Girls Clubs each year.

On Thursday night, the Chattahoochee Valley chapter will name its winner for 2017.

All week long, we've introduced you to the four finalists. Now, meet Carver High senior Makaylah Robinson, who's been a part of the Boys and Girls Club most of her life.

Makaylah started coming to the Boys and Girls Club when she was 5. Now 17 and a senior at Carver High, she teaches and mentors the little ones, with the club giving her the confidence to do it.

"It's keeping me focused, a leader, and it's just made me want to explore new possibilities," Makaylah said.

She wasn't always so confident, however. She says years of teasing and bullying made her introverted.

"Well, when I was younger I used to always get picked on about my teeth, but now I have braces," Makaylah said. "So I just feel like anyone that being bullied or you're in a situation where you can't speak up, I feel like I should be the voice."

Makaylah chose "speak up and speak out" as her platform issue. She wants to help other young people find their voice, starting by embracing who they are.

"You have to be happy with who you are and when people talk about you, just say well they're obviously not happy with something about themselves and are pushing it off on others," Makaylah said. "So I learned keep pushing forward and don't worry about what anyone has to say."

Makaylah says getting to that point in her own mind was life changing. She believes if she's chosen as Youth of the Year, she can help change the lives of many other young people just like her.

"I can relate to anyone, I've been bullied, I've been talked about, I've been high and I've been low, so I feel like I could just bring everyone together in my generation to change the world," Makaylah said.

The winner will be named Thursday night.  WTVM's Jason Dennis and Barbara Gauthier will emcee that event at the National Infantry Museum.

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