blue cross and blue shield: supporting maui’s young leaders

Earl Yoshii
March 15, 2024

It’s a chance for Hawaii’s youth to strive for greatness. Young people from across the islands vie for the title of Youth of the Year – the highest honor from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“The Youth of the Year program is the Boys & Girls Clubs’ premier recognition program,” says Thomas “TJ” Daya, director of operations at Boys & Girls Clubs of Maui. “They’ll be advocates for their club and community. They work very hard to achieve this honor and participate in programs that lead to academic success, good character and citizenship, and healthy lifestyles.”

Honing their skills
On Maui, candidates from the Valley Isle’s six Boys & Girls Clubs entered the annual competition, which included an in-person interview with a panel of judges. This year’s contenders had the opportunity to practice their interview skills with Blue Cross and Blue Shield executives who were on Maui for an organizational summit.

Practice interviews are a useful way to build confidence and reduce anxiety. 

One interviewer was Matthew All, president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. “We have volunteers all around the state of Kansas participating in Boys & Girls Clubs activities,” he said. “It’s a wonderful experience, not only for the boys and girls, but even more for the volunteers.”

Investing in the future
In addition to engaging in community events, Blue Cross and Blue Shield organizations nationwide invest in the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. One of their main goals is to help train their 48,000 staff members on how to better support the emotional and mental well-being of more than 3 million children.

“Part of health in any community is making sure the youth are cared for, that their mental health is good, that they have a place to go, that they have a place where they can feel they belong,” says Mark M. Mugiishi, M.D., F.C.A.S., president and CEO of HMSA. “Boys & Girls Clubs do all of those things, so we really try and support them in everything they do.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield executives enjoyed helping participants sharpen their interview skills. 

Lessons learned
Hiilei was among the contestants for Boys & Girls Club Maui Junior Youth of the Year. While she didn’t win, she’ll take the lessons she learned from the program into her future.

“They help me develop by learning from the staff and just being able to take that into my own life,” says Hiilei.

Christopher, who was named Boys & Girls Club Maui Senior Youth of the Year, shares a similar sentiment. He credits the Boys & Girls Club Maui for shaping his path.

“Boys & Girls Club was a major influence on my life. They told me to be myself. They helped me learn things about myself and provided me with support,” says Christopher. “Whether it’s school, volleyball, or anything in general, they’re always there for me. And that’s something I’ll appreciate for the rest of my life.”

Check out this video of the 2024 Youth of the Year program:

Learn more
Read inspirational stories and learn about ways to support and nurture Hawaii’s youth. 

bonding keiki to kai
One of the most important lessons for keiki growing up in Hawaii is how to be good stewards of the ocean in a safe and sustainable way. That’s the mission of Na Kama Kai, a nonprofit organization that empowers youth through ocean education. Read about their free monthly clinics for children.

dental tips for keiki at every age
Helping our keiki maintain good dental health is just as important to their developmental growth as physical activity and nutrition. Check out our tips to keep keiki teeth of any age healthy!

five exercises for your keiki
Physical activity for children and parents is important because it can help to control weight, reduce blood pressure, and improve self-confidence. Here are five exercises you can do with your kids at home or at the park.

hawaii youth get mental health support
Statistics show increases in depression and anxiety in Hawaii’s youth. To help address the youth mental health crisis, HMSA invested a total of $125,000 to support several initiatives statewide. Learn more about the programs and resources they provide.

healthy snacks for keiki
Looking for a healthy snack your kids will love? Check out our fun and easy recipes!

three tips for reading with your keiki
Reading to or with your kids is important for their development and a good way to bond. Three Hawaii State librarians share tips for reading with your keiki.

yo! helping oahu’s youth
Youth Outreach, or YO!, is a safe haven in Waikiki for runaway, homeless, and street-identified youth and young adults. Learn about YO!, the services it provides, and some of the people helping Oahu’s young people in need.

Share this article

By commenting, you agree to Island Scene's Terms of Use.