Youth of the Year wants to give back

From the The Brunswick News

As Garrett Cook sits at The Boys and Girls Club's Elizabeth F. Correll Teen Center in Brunswick, he has his bookbag on his back, both hands on the straps and a smile on his face.

It's not unusal for a teenager to be happy this time of year.

The 17-year-old is a senior at Glynn Academy and will be graduating in two weeks. Then, it's off to college.

But Cook has another reason to be grinning from ear to ear.

He recently won the Boys and Girls Club Youth of the Year Award for the southeast district, and he couldn't be happier.

"Winning this award showed me if I put my mind to it and really want it, then it can happen," Cook said. "I just got to put forth the effort."

The Youth of the Year is awarded to the youngster who has achieved high levels of success in school, in community service, moral character, public speaking and at their respective Boys and Girls Club center.

Cook has hit all the marks.

He's making all A's this semester, and he hopes to raise his grade point average to a 3.2. He is part of the Teen Advisory Group, the group at the Teen Center that plans events for students to get involved with community. He's participated in the Adopt-A-Highway program and recently helped raise money for Relay for Life.

The second youngest of five children, Cook was never a big speaker. But since being part of the club, he has given numerous speeches to large groups.

This is one of his proudest achievements.

"It shows how much I've improved and grown as a person," Cook said. "This award has given me a lot of self-confidence."

Cook has been involved with the Boys and Girls Club since age 10. He started at the Terrill Thomas Center because friends told him it would be a lot of fun.

And for Cook, it has been.

He recently went to Atlanta to compete for Youth of the Year for the state of Georgia. He didn't win, but his positive outlook on the event shows a maturity level beyond his years.

"I met a lot of new people and I got a medal for participation," Cook said. "It was a really great trip."

As Youth of the Year for the district, he will receive a $500 scholarship toward college if he goes to the College of Coastal Georgia. He had four other choices, including Macon State College, where his sister went.

But because of the Boys and Girls scholarship and other incentives, he'll be a Mariner at the start of the fall semester. He'll either major in psychology or physical therapy.

While his major is still up in the air, the soon-to-be college freshman knows one thing for sure: He has no plans to stop helping out at the center and will always be a part of the club

"Oh yeah, I'll volunteer my time here," Cook said. "That'll be no problem."

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Release Date: 5/6/2013
Source: The Brunswick News

By MARTIN RAND III