Janeaya has been a member of the Owen Boys & Girls Club for 10 years. During that time, she’s become an academic role model, a star athlete and an involved leader at the Club. The 17-year-old has overcome many challenges in her life, and this spring, after reading her essays and learning about her leadership at the Club, a panel of judges selected her as Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver’s Citywide Senior Youth of the Year.

“When I was younger, a lot of people let me down,” explained Janeaya. “There was a lot of negativity in my life. When I see that in my head, there’s gray, black, red – just really dark, gloomy colors. That’s how I came to the Club. But the more I talked to staff, the more friends I made, the more I laughed, I started to paint more vibrant and happy colors. Not all colors are the same, just like people. We all experience things very differently. Those experiences help your canvas be super unique. You’re never going to have the same life as someone else.”

The Club has provided a safe place for Janeaya since she was 6 years old, and it has given her opportunities to excel in sports, academics, arts and more.

“I always came to the Club, and all these people were smiling around me,” said Janeaya. “They made me feel welcome. As a kid, why would anyone want to leave that?”

“The Boys & Girls Club is where you can leave your problems outside, said Zack Vigil, Athletics Specialist at the Owen Club. “When you’re here, you don’t have to worry about that. If you’re hungry, we’ll feed you. If you’re sad, we’ll lift you up.”

What stands out about Janeaya isn’t just that she’s broken down barriers and found success against great odds, it’s that she has dedicated herself to helping others do the same.

“I want to be a math teacher,” she said. “I didn’t have the best background. I could have easily given up. I want to inspire kids to believe they can achieve what they want to if they put their mind to it, no matter what background they come from.”

Celebrate Janeaya and all our Club kids

Watch our Boys & Girls Clubs Gala Remixed video broadcast on our website.