Rantin: Service defines SC Youth of the Year

brantin@thestate.com (803) 771-8306May 26, 2014 

Ashlyn Barton

Encouraging her peers to read more and helping organize local food drives are just two of the shining spots on Ashlyn Barton’s resume of service.

But for the Mid-Carolina High School senior, it’s a model for living she’s come to embrace.

“My family encourages me, and I relay that model of encouragement to the young lives that I influence today and hereafter,” Barton said. “I know well that no matter where you’re from or what people tell you, you can achieve anything.”

Barton has been named the South Carolina Youth of the Year by Boys & Girls Clubs of America. She was selected from 15 youths across the state based on her character, leadership skills and willingness to give back to the community.

The Youth of the Year award recognizes outstanding contributions to a club member’s family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club.

As a member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands’ Mid-Carolina Middle School site, Barton has taken an active role in many club activities. She helped create award-winning posters for athletics events, donated books and took a pie to the face in support of the club’s food drive. Barton also helps other club members with their homework and other activities.

“Ashlyn walked into our club as a shy young lady. She has truly blossomed here and has finally figured out the road she wants to take for her future,” said Yoko Ruff, campus director of Mid-Carolina Middle School Boys & Girls Club site. “She’s awesome with the members, and she’s encouraged them to blossom as well.”

Away from the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Midlands, Barton is a yearly volunteer for the Special Olympics, has collected children’s books for area elementary schools, bought Angel Tree gifts for a child and participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. She also has raised money for her local animal shelter and has fostered more than 20 dogs and adopted two.

Barton is a member of the school’s art club, Spanish club, student council, BETA club, drama club, and chorus. She was instrumental in creating Mid-Carolina High’s first book club her junior year.

Barton is dual-enrolled at Piedmont Technical College and plans to study biology at Coastal Carolina University.

The Youth of the Year award is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive.

Barton will receive a $1,000 college scholarship from Tupperware Brands Corp. This summer, she will compete against other Boys & Girls Club members in the Southeast Region. Five regional winners will advance to Washington, D.C., in September to compete for the title of Boys & Girls Club of America’s National Youth of the Year.

“Ashlyn and all Youth of the Year nominees are living proof that Boys & Girls Clubs across the country are fulfilling their mission of inspiring and enabling young people to be great,” said Jim Clark, Boys and Girls Clubs of America president and CEO.

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