MT - Wade Burland recently earned the title youth of the year
from the Boys and Girls Club of the Flathead Reservation and Lake
County, a competition based on responsibility to self and to the
chose Wade based on his positive attitude, the challenges he faces
and his ability to overcome them, said John Schnase, executive
director of the Boys and Girls Club in Ronan. He has set an
example for the other members of the club.
who is a descendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes,
was honored Saturday in Polson during a Boys and Girls Club fundraiser,
a Mardi Gras-style event that collected more than $30,000 for the
650 club members in Lake County and on the reservation.
least 140,000 Native youth participate in Boys and Girls Club centers
across the United States, at more than 220 clubs in 25 states.
growth is astounding, considering only about a dozen clubs existed
in Indian Country some 12 years ago, said Joe Cordova, project director
for Boys and Girls Club in Indian Country, a consulting firm in
clubs give kids an opportunity, a place to go after school
and in the summer with programs and services on a regular basis,
where otherwise they might not have anything to do, said Cordova,
a former CEO of the National Boys and Girls Club. Youth receive
guidance and participate in leadership programs and field trips.
year, 18 new clubs were started in Native communities, their growth
spurred on by positive outcomes for Native youth, a disadvantaged
group in which 30 percent do not finish high school and only 17
percent attend college. Native youth also suffer suicide rates 62
percent higher than all other racial or ethnic groups in the country.
who has been a Boys and Girls Club member since he was 6 years old,
earned his youth of the year award for being an upstanding member
who works, plays and studies hard.
mother, Mary Rogers, watched her 4-foot, 5 1/2-inch son address
participants of the weekend Mardi Gras as if he were having a one-on-one
conversation with his best friend. He spoke with grace, candor and
he so handsome? said his mom.
teenager told the audience he would explain his height later, which
he did, but only after sharing some stories about work, family and
school. He made people laugh when he told them how his height made
it difficult to be taken seriously. When he asked for a job application
at McDonald's in Ronan, workers thought it was for his parents.
teenager eventually got hired.
also told how a genetic disease, neurofibromatosis, had caused a
tumor to plant itself at the base of his brain stem. It is now growing
down his spinal cord. Medical treatments may eventually allow him
end goal is to get some height on him, Rogers said.
winner of the Flathead and Lake County youth award, Burland recently
competed against four other youth club winners in Montana for the
state Boys and Girls Club youth of the year title.
did not win, but he captured the soul of everyone he met,
still has two years to compete in the statewide competition. Chances
are he could eventually win the regional award. A coup in each category
would allow him to become a spokesperson for the National Boys and
Girls Club, which would be a first for Indian Country.
made incredible strides with their kids, said Cordova. It
won't be long before there's a Native national youth of the year.
Jodi Rave can be reached at 1-800-366-7186 or at email@example.com.
Or read her blog at www.buffalopost.net.