Gowitzka named Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year

What is it: Jayde Gowitzka, 18, a senior at Sandusky High School and a six-year member of  Boys & Girls Clubs of Northeast Ohio's Sandusky Teen Center, recently was named the BGCNEO 2024 Youth of the Year.

Meet Jayde: Gowitzka, who joined the Club after moving to Sandusky from Bellevue, is a four-year high school varsity swimmer who captured state titles in the girls para division 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard backstroke events at the recent state swim meet. She has cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects her ability to use and control the muscles on the right side of her body. She started swimming at age 7.

She is president of Keystone Club, a leadership group, and part of the SMART Girls healthy lifestyles initiative.

Gowitzka also volunteers at community, church, and senior citizen events. One of her notable volunteer activities was applying makeup to cancer patients for an event called Confident Beauty.

At SHS, Jayde has been on the honor roll, student council member, the softball team and the swim team.

After high school, Gowitzka plans to attend the University of Akron and study psychology.

Teen Center Director Allysa Powell says Jayde “has overcome many obstacles to get where she is today and has allowed nothing to stop her.”

What’s next: Gowitzka will receive a $5,000 scholarship for winning and will move on to state competition in Columbus April 17-18.

“It is great to win, but it is even greater to inspire people,” she says.

About the competition: A panel of judges evaluated the Club, community service, academic records, and essays of the candidates. The finalists also were interviewed by the panel.

The Youth of the Year competition is one of the Club’s signature programs and is open to all members ages 14-18 who meet academic standards and are involved in community and Club activities.

Through the Youth of the Year program, young people showcase their talents and achievements, share their hopes and dreams, and work toward a bright and positive future. Candidates emerge through year-round recognition programs in their local Clubs, progressing through state and regional events, culminating in a weeklong celebration in Washington, D.C., where one is named the National Youth of the Year – the highest honor bestowed upon a Club member.

About Boys & Girls Clubs: Boys & Girls Clubs provide safe, fun places for kids ages 6-18 after school. Clubs focus on healthy lifestyles, academic success and character development. BGCNEO, which was formed by the 2019 merger of Clubs in Cleveland, Akron, Lorain County and Sandusky, now has 49 locations in six counties.