YMCA honors youth achievers

The Capital District YMCA believes in helping all young people access the opportunities necessary to succeed, said Orville Abrahams, and perhaps most indicative of that mission is its Black and Latino Achievers Program.

In young people who may not have all the opportunities, may not have access to all the role models and may not be able to get to certain places and take advantage of different types of experiences, especially underrepresented groups like young African American and Latino students, it's important for us to be able to make sure they get the same exposure to opportunities to learn and grow, said Abrahams, director of community development at the YMCA.

The program recently hosted its 8th Annual Black and Latino Achievers Recognition dinner on June 9 to honor 21 youth and 15 adult achievers for commitment to the community that went above and beyond.

Johari Johnson, a senior at Shenendehowa High School, was named Youth Achiever of the Year. She's president of the Black and Latino Achievers Program but if you ask her what makes her worthy of such a title, she humbly can't tell you. When pushed to make a guess, she said it would probably have to be her leadership.

"My leadership skills in general are why they probably chose me. I got involved when I was in tenth grade because I really do care about people in general"it's my strong suit and weakness because I'd do anything for anybody who needed it," said Johnson.

Johnson volunteered and headed up a black history month campaign at her high school, decorating the building with other students and getting on the announcements. She attended meetings and events in an effort to gain something she felt she was missing, but at the same time, she was still making sure everyone else around her had the chance to do the same.

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