Jamari Deshaun Jones, a teen member of the Prairies Youth Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, has won the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Ohio Military Youth of the Year Award for 2022.
The award involves a four-year scholarship to a university of his choosing.
Jones moved to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base from Joint Base San Antonio in December 2017 when he was just 11 with his mother, Staff Sgt. Amber Jones, 88th Medical Support Squadron, and father, Gerron Smith.
In the Ohio Military Youth of the Year competition, he was tasked with writing four essays ranging from his youth and club experiences to personal growth and what the military means to him.
“It been a great experience for me,” Jones said. “I had no clue what this would be like or that it existed before I got involved in the Youth Center, but I’m glad that I did it.”
The teenager says he’d like to work as a computer engineer or information technology specialist after college. His hobbies include football and video games.
His mom recognizes the challenges he has faced as a military child, as well as his work and growth through it all.
“I am definitely so proud of what he has accomplished,” Amber Jones said. “He continues to strive through, despite all of the moves we have made.”
She also believes in his abilities and prospects for the competition’s next stage.
The next part of Jones’ journey will be at the regional tournament in Chicago in June to compete against youth from military bases across the Midwest.
Despite the event’s significance, he maintains a calm demeanor and confidence. The Prairies Youth Center staff has been with him each step of the way and is also confident in his chances.
“We are thrilled that he has made it this far,” said Bennie Luck, Youth Programs teen coordinator. “We would love for him to go to regionals and win, but we are just proud of him even going through the process and taking the steps he needed to take.”
The family is scheduled to depart WPAFB this summer for a new assignment at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.
According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Youth of the Year has been the organization’s premier recognition program since 1947. It celebrates the extraordinary achievements of teens who epitomize the values of leadership, service, academic excellence and healthy lifestyles.
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