Meet Derrick Harden: 2016/2017 Youth of the Year for John H. Harland Boys & Girls Club

Meet Derrick Harden: 2016/2017 Youth of the Year for John H. Harland Boys & Girls Club
August 7, 2017 BGCMA

Derrick began attending the John H. Harland Boys & Girls Club when he was only 12 years old. He admits that he was not a very open person; not because he didn’t want to be, but because he was afraid to be. He felt overweight, struggled with his self-image, and held a deep-seated fear of not being accepted by his peers. Furthermore, he bore a tremendous weight on his shoulders after his father’s passing. Today, he will proudly announce that the early struggles he endured all made him the determined and tenacious young man he is now.

Derrick shares, “I lost the person closest to me in the world. Attending Harland gave me the mechanism that I needed to cope.”

One of his mentors at the Club, Coach Marshall, helped Derrick get through his tough times and it was then that he decided he wanted to be strong for his family. Once this realization came, he dived into numerous activities at the Club and at school including Keystone, Money Matters, Morehouse Mentoring, the Comic Book Club, the debate team, and even became a summer youth staff member.

“Harland Boys & Girls Club has taught me how to become a mentor to my peers, how to prepare for college, network, and give back to my community.”

Not only has Derrick transformed into a leader, but he hopes to share his compassionate outlook on life and the importance of an active and healthy lifestyle with his peers.

He began playing soccer in an effort to become healthier and has even taken on a vegetarian diet.

“My reasoning for that change was to never consume another living thing just for my consumption or my enjoyment.”

What is clear is Derrick’s strong values and resolute attitude. His mentors are confident that he will continue to grow as an intelligent, hardworking, and humble young leader.

Learn more about the programs that have helped Derrick navigate in his journey toward living a healthier lifestyle.

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