AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy. --
In the freezing cold winter, 15-year-old Chester Greenwood of Maine had enough of her ears being cold. So she decided to make a wire loop and asked her grandmother to sew fur onto the ends. She invented what we now know as earmuffs.
One might say the youth should act on their initiative because they are the ones who will ask the questions many will not. They will be the ones to lead us to places we have yet to imagine, because they are the innovators and creators.
Therefore, it is important we deliberately care for, support and connect with the youth of Aviano, and that’s exactly what the Youth Program accomplishes daily.
“The Youth Center and Teen Center are youth focused environments that provide opportunities for recreation and development that will prepare youth for healthy lives full of positive impact,” said Gerald Torres, director of youth programs from the 31st Force Support Squadron at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
The Youth Center is an important environment for the youth of military families stationed at Aviano.
“The Youth Center programs are not designed to replace school or home, but rather to complement them,” said Torres. “Teachers and parents have very specific roles and goals. Youth Programs allow the youth to learn where they are most interested in. To pursue the topics and skills that inspire them with support from caring staff.”
The teen center is a Boys and Girls Club of America and 4-H affiliated program, which give teens the chance to win contests and scholarships for college.
One of those programs is the Youth of the Year – Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s Premier Recognition Experiences.
“The Youth of the Year program provides an opportunity for teens to demonstrate impact in their families, community and within Youth Programs and be recognized for this contribution,” said Torres. “The Youth of the Year program also serves a springboard for many other opportunities. It helps teens identify their vision for their future academic and career plans.”
The applicants are mentored throughout the application process.
“Each fall members of the Teen Center are invited to begin building their Youth of the Year resume,” said Torres. “The process begins with reflecting on their ‘personal brand, life as a military child, vision for America’s youth, and Youth Programs experience.’ They develop the packages throughout the year. In the spring, packages are finalized and submitted for the Aviano Youth of the Year Competition.”
This year’s Aviano Youth of the Year winner was Genavieve Osuna, dependent of Senior Master Sgt. Jesus Osuna, from the 31st Logistic Readiness Squadron and Sinead Osuna, contractor for the 31st Medical Group.
“Genavieve Osuna was selected for the Aviano Youth of the Year for her role in improving herself, the community and Aviano Youth and Teen Programs,” said Torres. “She has been distinguished among her peers for success in ballet, fundraising for St. June Children’s Hospital, and membership in the National Junior Honor Society.”
It is a true accomplishment to win Aviano Youth of the Year.
“Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor bestowed upon Aviano Youth Program members, said Torres. “The Youth of the Year serves as a role model and spokesperson for Aviano youth and teens.”
Genavieve Osuna has exemplified what it means to be a role model, leader and advocate for so many.
“The Youth Center has done many things for me,” said Genavieve Osuna. “Since I was 5 years old I have been in the Youth Program … Personally, the Youth Center has inspired my love for baking, taught me life skills, and so much more. The Youth Program has challenged me to help out my community and to be self-aware of how I impact others.”