YOY Kiana Knolland and Club alumni talk about how they found success with the help of their Clubs
By Daisy R., United Keystone of Garden Grove
Saturday’s morning session was about possibility. Kiana Knolland, 2013-14 National Youth of the Year, was introduced. Kiana shared her life journey as she battled and overcame circumstances that made it difficult to achieve what she has now. Her advice to Keystoners is to keep going, no matter how dire the circumstances.
Then a panel discussion on the topic possibility began. Boys and Girls Club alumni give their intake on how Boys and Girls club has impacted their lives. Halleemah Nash moderated the panel, which included Kiana, Paralympian Blake Leeper and Dr. Victor Rios.
Dr. Rios remembered growing up and standing in line with his family to get a block of government cheese. Then they would go to the store and get some tortillas. “When life gives you cheese, you make quesadillas,” Dr. Rios said.
“Boys and Girls club became a haven for me,” he said.
The conversation continued. “The Boys and Girls Club has always been pivotal in my success,” Kiana said.
The panelist talked about how they achieved success. “Each and every day that I wake up, I have to be the best of the best of the best,” Blake said.
“It’s important not just to be a dreamer, it’s important to be a striver,” Dr. Rios said. He has written a book called “Street Life” that details his overcoming poverty and his journey to obtaining a PhD and becoming a college professor.
Blake was the first disabled individual to be inducted into the Boys and Girls Club Alumni Hall of Fame. “What makes us giant is that we came from the same club within your communities,” he said.
Blake L. explains how as he was born, medical officials told his parents that he would never walk, run or jump. Contrary to the doctors’ beliefs, Blake went on to live an active life and became a medal-winning runner.
The floor opened up to audience questions submitted via Twitter. Questions were sentimental, inspiring, and even quirky. Questions ranged from “ Who was your role model,” to “Blake will you go to the prom with me?” By the way, Blake said yes!
After the panel discussion, Keystoners were given buttons that said “I have the possibility to” with a space to fill in the blank with their aspirations of their future. Answers included "Be successful" and "Achieve my dreams."
To close the session, First Wave took the stage with a spoken word performance that inspired the audience before the Keystoners broke into five groups to attend Super Sessions.