Q: How long have you been going to the Tri-City Branch?
A: I have been attending the Club ever since I was five years old and plan to stay until I am 18.
Q: What activities or programs are you a part of at the Club?
A: I currently am the President of the Keystone Club. Keystone Club serves our community by volunteering. It is also a leadership group that teaches the youth to be responsible, trustworthy and involved.
Q: How has the Club helped you in other aspects of your life – school, at home, sports?
A: The Club played a huge role in my everyday life. For starters, it helped with school. Without the Club, I would have never received the help I needed in school. Whether it’s being able to use a computer or just simply asking a staff for help on my algebra homework. The staff has shown me the power of education and with that have I plan to further it at The University of New Mexico. Secondly, it helped at home. The only reason why I started attending the Club was because things at home were not so easy. With my parents divorcing, my mom needed a place where we were worry-free of adult problems and we were fortunate enough to find the Club, which I now call my second home. Lastly, the Club helped me find my self-worth. As a young kid I was severely bullied and with that came a lot of negative outcomes like depression, self-harm and even suicide. Due to these negative emotions, I came to be diagnosed with a bipolar depression disorder. But despite the harsh struggles I’ve gone through the Club was with me every step of the way to helping me discover my worth. I owe a lot of this to my teen specialist, Paul Cervantes, for without him I would’ve never been able to reach my full potential and be the confident true leader I am today.
Q: You were chosen as a Youth of the Year (YOY). How do you feel about that? What does that entail?
A: I feel not only proud, but also honored that I am able to give back to my Club after everything they’ve done for me. This entails that the Club acknowledged my true dedication and as well as my leadership roles there too.
Q: What advice would you give to younger kids about succeeding in life?
A: “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.” To get what you want in life you have to work for it. It’s not always going to be easy, but if you set your mind towards it, then amazing things happen.
A: My future plan is to either go out of state to the University of New Mexico or go to Arizona State University. I plan to study criminology and psychology and fulfill my ultimate goal of becoming a behavior analyst so I can help those who have shared my experiences.
Q: Anything else you would like to share?
A: It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve come from, your past does not dictate your future. I am living proof that no obstacle can hold me back from what I really want and that is to inspire the youth. I’m here to prove people wrong and show them the meaning of hard work and dedication. I stand proudly representing people with mental disorder, depression and for those who think life isn’t worth it. If I can get through it, then there is no doubt in my mind that the youth can too.
Isabel Castillo is a Junior at Agua Fria High School and a member of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix Tri-City West Thornwood Branch