Local teen Bahradine-Bell named Indiana Youth of the Year

Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- According to the Boys and Girls Club of St. Joseph County, for the first time, a local member has been crowned as Indiana Youth of the Year.

On April 12, Rima Bahradine-Bell, a long-time club member and sophomore at Career Academy, claimed her title during an annual judging competition in Indianapolis.

“The club has been in my life for longer than I remember, Bahradine-Bell said. “From mentors I’ve learned a little kindness is never just a little. From members, I learned that I am accepted, represented, and wanted. And from myself I learned that the after-school club I started at as a cry for stability will forever be a part of me.”

The Youth of the Year award is a national Boys and Girls Club of America platform that "celebrates young leaders who have demonstrated exceptional leadership, academic excellence, and commitment to their communities," according to the organization.

"Rima started with club as a Kindergartener at the BGCSJC Harrison Club site," said BGCSJC Communications Director Cynthia Penaloza.

"She credits club staff for pushing her to be the best version of herself. In the past year, Rima provided input for the BGCSJC Mobile MakerSpace curriculum, in an effort to share her love for STEAM to all kids. She is also in the process of creating First Lego League teams across club sites. Through club, she’s had the opportunity to travel Washington, D.C., and the Indiana State House multiple times to advocate for the Boys and Girls Clubs, as well as challenges facing our youth."

In addition to her time at the BGCSJC, Rima participates with FIRST robotics, track, basketball, and recently graduated from Youth Leadership South Bend Mishawaka. Last week, she was in Houston at the Robotics World Competition.

“This win reflects Rima's remarkable accomplishments as a Club kid, student, and servant leader in our community,” said Jacqueline Kronk, BGCSJC CEO. “The judges were blown away by her drive, resilience, candor, and humor. She is truly a force, and we are so proud of her and excited for what the future holds.”

Now Rima will head to Chicago for the June 27 Midwest Regional Competition, the winner of which will go on to compete for National Youth of the Year.

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