Lucian LaFleur stands alone in front of a room full of people. Something he would not have done two years ago. Not something he ever thought he would do, according to the speech he is giving. Lucian is competing for title of Youth of the Year for Boys and Girls Club Elizabethton Carter County.
The program takes three children that have shown leadership, good character, and citizenship skills each year. The students develop public speaking and critical thinking skills and deliver a short speech about something that has impacted their life.
Lucian is competing for his second year. His brightly colored hair is blue today but changes weekly to suit his artistic moods. He stands tall and speaks clear, his voice only wavering when he glances at his father, his only support system.
He speaks of his not too pleasant start at the Boys and Girls Club. His thoughts on how he would be an outsider that would not fit in and that the club would be boring and for younger kids.
He continues to break down every one of those negative thoughts with the very positive reality that he found. It is not just for small kids, there are great activities for those his age. The club helps keep his grades up with afterschool tutoring. They make sure he has nutritious food every day, that he learns lessons in health, civics, and character building. On top of all that the work to make him feel accepted.
Lucian’s speech on his personal journey at the Boys & Girls Club does not leave a dry eye in the house. This soft and sometimes unsure voice left a very emotional impression on everyone in the room.
Lucian was named Youth of the Year and moved on to compete at the state level.
Today, Lucian is in a peer leadership role and says he does not feel at all like the kid who came into the club. He is surrounded by friends and he looks forward to a future where he continues to stand tall and tell his story.
About United Way of East TN Highlands
Serving Washington, Carter, Johnson and Southern Sullivan Counties, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty by uniting people and resources to strengthen the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Our vision is to be a community united to empower every person and organization to reach their full potential and achieve more.