The Boys and Girls Club of Topeka recognized two of its top teens in the state Wednesday night.
The Club held their annual Youth of the Year banquet at the Ramada Convention Center in Topeka. Students are awarded the title each year based on their contributions and service to their respective Boys and Girls Clubs chapter.
Ruth Gathunguri was chosen as the Youth of the Year, while Natalie Downing was selected as the Military Youth of the Year. The Boys and Girls Club also picked Topeka deputy police chief Brian Wheeles as Volunteer of the Year.
Gathunguri said the Boys and Girls Club has taught her a lot about herself.
“It’s my passion just to share my story with people,” Gathunguri said. “I know it can help people through their own struggles in life and show them that anybody is extraordinary.”
Downing added that respect from her peers helps her see herself as an empowered person.
“Even if you don’t feel confident in who you are or feel sure this is what I’m supposed to be doing, these kids don’t know that. They just look up to you and see this amazing person. And I’ve really learned to see myself like the kids see me.”