Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Exceptional teen earns title 'Youth of the Year'

by Senior Airman Olivia Bumpers
23d Wing Public Affairs

2/10/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- One teen's devotion to mentoring others and willingness to help others in the local community recently allowed him to receive the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a military youth here.

In January 2014, Jeffrey Fleming was named Moody Youth of the Year, which is a part of the Boys and Girls Club of America program. Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a teen can attain in the association. At the end of February, he will travel to Atlanta to compete at the state level for the title of 'Military Youth of the Year'.

Choosing the Youth of the Year is a yearlong process. Judges recognize outstanding contributions that each teen does for their family, school and local community. They also look at how they overcome personal challenges and obstacles.

"His dedication and commitment to serving others is everything that is asked for when choosing the Youth of the Year," said Dion Bass, 23d Force Support Squadron Youth Sports and Fitness director. "He is well spoken and respectful, and he tends to stand out from the rest."

Fleming's list of achievements and contributions include everything from volunteering regularly at the Youth Center to involving himself in the Passport to Manhood self-development group for young male teens. He is also currently the president of the Moody Liberty Keystone Club, a teen leadership group, all while working a part-time job.

He is also involved in the Toastmasters club, a communication and leadership group, where he was named best speaker.

"My main goal is to better myself," said Fleming. "While I'm improving myself, I want to help others do the same.

"I love to mentor younger teens because in a way, I see a little bit of myself in them," he added. "The more I see them succeed, the better it makes me feel."

Fleming added that growing up with a parent in the military was extremely stressful and he hopes to use his experience to help other military children deal with issues that normal children don't go through.

"My biggest problem was fitting in at school and keeping friends," said Fleming. "I would meet people everywhere I went but had to leave them one to two years later."

In addition to fitting in at each school, Fleming also mentioned that he had identity problems as he grew up. He said that the support he received from his family and friends helped him get through tough obstacles.

Though adjusting to life as a military teen was hard for Fleming, he mentioned moving to Moody was his easiest transition. He added that the Youth Center is one of his favorite centers he has been involved with out of all his locations.

"This may sound cheesy but the staff, advisors, and the kids push me to do better," said Fleming. "I don't think I would have gotten this far without their support."

Fleming added that his parents, U.S. Air Force retired Master Sgt. Michael Fleming and Shirley Fleming, were his biggest motivators.

"My parents taught me to never settle for less," said Fleming. "I try to excel in anything I'm doing whether I'm at work, school or volunteering."

While continuing to excel in his obligations, Fleming's hard work didn't go unnoticed. He earned the Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally scholarship that will pay 90 percent of his schooling.

Fleming plans to attend Valdosta State University to pursue a business degree after he graduates high school in May.

Although winning Youth of the Year at the national level would be a great accomplishment, Fleming said that his main focus is school and continuing to work with younger youth at the center.

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