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Murray Journal

Murray teen named Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year

Apr 05, 2021 11:53AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Shawnti Diaz, 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake Youth of the Year. (Photo courtesy of Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

For Shawnti Diaz, the Boys & Girls Club (B&GC) has not only been a lifeline but an environment where she could thrive and succeed. The 17-year-old Murray High School senior was informed in February that she is the 2021 Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake Youth of the Year.

The B&GC Youth of the Year Award recognizes leadership in the club and the community and the youth’s influence as a positive role model. Diaz will receive a $2,000 scholarship and will go on to contend for the title of Utah Youth of the Year this spring.

Diaz has had a long relationship with the B&GC in Murray. She started attending when she was just 3 years old because her single mother, who had immigrated to the United States, had to work multiple jobs to support the family.

“I remember this being my only place of refuge after school until my mother got off work,” Diaz said. “When I needed someone to share my thoughts and ideas, they pushed me to think higher and do more to step into my best self….I know that one day I will reach my full potential and become someone extraordinary because of the growth I have experienced at the Miller Family (Boys & Girls) Club.”

As a senior at Murray High School, Diaz is both captain and a starting-five player on the girls basketball team. She loves to cook and plans to attend Utah Valley University to become a pastry chef. 

“It means so much to me to be able to even participate in the Youth of the Year—to be able to have the money for college and not have the fear of if I will even be able to afford it,” Diaz said.

In addition to playing on the basketball team, she also competes in track and field. Off the playing fields, she is a member of the Black Student Union. At the B&GC, she is a leader in the Keystone Club, a group that organizes fundraisers and performs community service.

For younger boys and girls just starting in the B&GC, Diaz has a bit of advice. “I will tell them to be themselves and to always be kind. There is nothing more important in life than to be kind. And to be involved in community and clubs.”

Since 1967, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake have offered positive alternatives to children who may be surrounded by negative influences. The clubs show them how to live successful and productive lives. Boys & Girls Clubs give their members, ages 3-18, access to dedicated, trained professionals who can guide them in adopting healthy lifestyles and pursuing educational objectives. Among all things they provide, the Boys & Girls Clubs equip young people with the skills they need to resolve conflicts peacefully, improve relationships in every aspect of their day-to-day lives, and function as responsible citizens.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Salt Lake serves kids at seven locations in Salt Lake, Tooele and Carbon counties. As their website states, “Last year, nearly 6,500 youth attended our Clubs, with over 1,300 members coming to the Clubs each day. Our mission is to inspire and empower youth, families, and communities to realize their full potential as productive, responsible, and caring citizens.” 

Former Utah Jazz player Thurl Bailey hosted the virtual event announcing Diaz’s award. Also recognized at the ceremony was legendary Utah Jazz head coach Frank Layden. Layden was inducted to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America Alumni Hall of Fame and the Utah Boys & Girls Clubs Alumni Hall of Fame as the inaugural member. During the virtual event, Layden spoke about his experience as a young boy at the Flatbush Boys Club.

“The Boys Club taught us how to win, how to lose, how to accept success, and how to live with defeat. It made us stronger,” said Layden. “If it weren’t for them, none of these other things would have happened.”