Local teen named garrison’s Youth of the Year

by Mindy Campbell
USAG Kaiserslautern Public Affairs

Military children often have a unique story to tell.

Michael Lawson, 16, said he hopes to share that story from a unique platform as the 2012 Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year for U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern.

“Military kids are unique in their own way,”  he said. “They have their own story to tell.”

Michael, who will be a senior in the fall at Kaiserslautern High School, is a true example of an extraordinary young man recognized by the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for his sound character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community, said Vicki Brown, program supervisory specialist at the garrison’s Child, Youth and School Service’s Landstuhl’s Youth Center.

“From a leadership position, he has been involved in so many different things and been successful with them all,” Brown said. “It is nice to see him get Youth of the Year and to be recognized for all he has done.”

Since 1947, the award program has recognized teens for outstanding service to the club, their local communities and their families. The judging criteria also include strong academics, morals, goals and public speaking abilities, according to the BGCA.

In addition to winning the Youth of the Year title, Michael was named his high school’s Athlete of the Year, where he participates in cross country, wrestling and track. He was also named as one of two U.S. Army Europe representatives for the Army Teen Panel and participated in the Installation Command Europe’s Youth Leadership forum. Michael serves as the vice president of the Landstuhl Keystone Club and will also serve as his school’s senior class president and student body vice president.

Brown said Michael deserves to be named Youth of the Year for all that he has accomplished and his leadership role within the teen community.

“This past year, Michael has been a driving force with the Keystone Club by motivating others,” Brown said. “From leading the Keystone Club to breaking track records, once Michael sets his mind on something he accomplishes it.”

For Michael, his hard work is well worth it.

“I consider the fact that this is my community and anything that I can do to benefit my own community is to benefit me,” said Michael, who has lived in Germany at different times for 13 years. “I will be living in this community so I’ll do these things to benefit myself and everyone else that is living here.”

Regional winners can receive a $10,000 scholarship and compete nationally. National winners may earn up to $50,000 for school.

The BGCA will modify the Youth of the Year program next year. Currently, military teens compete against others back in the U.S. Next year, the military teens will compete in their own category and one will be named Military Youth of the Year. 

Currently, Michael plans on attending college, but is unsure of what he wants to study. He said he is leaning toward following in his father’s footsteps, who is the deputy commander at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and becoming a doctor. He is also interested in applying to U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where his father is an alumnus.

Michael credits much of his success to the Landstuhl Youth Center and its staff.

“I can definitely vouch for it as being one of the best in Europe, if not overseas,” Michael said. “A lot of the credit should go to the youth advisers here at the youth center. They really gave me the opportunities. They informed me about Youth of the Year and they informed me about Army Teen Panel. They really got me moving.”

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