LIHUE — The sign that was being held by Shaun Campbell-Martin and Akira Balubar Saturday at the Lihue Airport said it all — “Congratulations our Youth of the Year Winner, Kahiapo!”
“Kahiapo is Bryden’s middle name,” said Campbell- Martin. “He’s our cousin, and he won! Now, he’s our Youth of the Year.”
Bryden Ka‘auwai, a sophomore at Kauai High School and a member of the Boys & Girls Club, Lihue program, was announced as the finalist to the state Boys & Girls Club Youth of the Year program following a day-long competition on Oahu with fellow Kauai finalists Kimberly Matutina and Alexis Freeman.
Tina Albao, the Boys & Girls Club programs director, said Ka‘auwai will return to Oahu on March 30 — at the state Capitol, he will go up against finalists from Maui, the Big Island and the military bases to see who will be the Youth of the Year.
“Saturday’s competition had our Kauai finalists competing against the Oahu finalists for the privilege of advancing to the state competition,” Albao said. “Congratulations to Bryden! We’re so proud of him.”
Ka‘auwai he was not nervous, but being named a finalist was a good feeling.
“I get to see how I impact other lives,” he said. “It’s also a good feeling to be able to give back to the community, and to those who were there for me and my family when we needed help.”
Matutina said the finalist competition on Oahu was stressful.
“I knew some of the people, but not as friends,” Matutina said. “Going to Oahu really made me feel professional. I’ve been with the Boys & Girls Club since the seventh-grade, and over the five years, being able to create new relationships has been very gratifying. I’m planning on doing this again next year.”
Ka‘auwai said he goes to the Boys & Girls, Lihue, to help the kids.
“I help them when they need help,” the soft-spoken boy said. “Sometimes I just talk with them. I help them with homework, and sometimes help them study — whatever they need help with. I’m also taking part in True Colors, a suicide prevention program.”
Ka‘auwai said he has been with the Boys & Girls Club for nine years.
“I started when I was in Kapaa at the Kapaa Clubhouse,” he said. “The staff asked me to join. I re-joined when the Lihue Clubhouse opened. When the staff asked me if I would take part in the Youth of the Year program, I just took a chance and went for it. I’m not really nervous about going back on March 30.”
Last year’s Youth of the Year was Jeffrey Jones of Oahu. Kauai finalists included Jaylin Velarde and Rendle Mones.