07/24/12 — Representing his county: Patrick Smith to add voice at youth summit

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Representing his county: Patrick Smith to add voice at youth summit

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on July 24, 2012 1:46 PM

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Patrick Smith, 16, plays a game of pool as Keshawn Jackson, 8, left, and Elijah Boseman, 6, center, watch at the Boys and Girls Club of Northern Wayne County in Fremont. Smith, who has been a part of the club since he was 8, was chosen to be the Wayne County delegate to Youth Voice 2012, a summit sponsored by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners.

FREMONT -- Patrick Smith has practically grown up at the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Wayne County.

The 16-year-old has twice been chosen Youth of the Year at the Fremont club.

And, in August, he will add another title to his resume -- Wayne County's delegate to Youth Voice 2012 -- a summit designed to offer the state's young people the chance to speak their minds about a variety of issues.

Smith started attending programs at the Fremont club when he was 8 years old.

The product of educators at Fremont STARS Elementary School -- mom, Shaulanda Smith is a preschool teacher and grandmother, Patrice Smith, recently retired from the school -- the Boys & Girls Club has been his after school haven.

Site director Andreta Wooten says he has become a leader and role model at the site.

"Patrick is a very eager young man, very responsible, loves to learn," Ms. Wooten said. "He's always been an A-student, always been polite, helped the kids with their homework, organizes games and tournaments, that type of thing. The kids pretty much look up to him."

Patrick, a rising junior at Charles B. Aycock High School, has a mutual respect for the club director.

"It's been great," he said. "I have always looked up to Ms. Wooten. She's always given me a place to go when my mom had to work. She picked me up, and I've made a lot of friends here."

He credits his mother and grandmother with being examples to him and his younger brother, Xavier, 9, also a member of Boys & Girls Club. A sister lives in Maryland with their father.

Patrick has varied interests, from involvement in several clubs at school and being two merit badges away from attaining his Life Scout award to playing basketball and serving as usher at his church, Judah Place of Deliverance.

He also plans to go to college. He said he aspires to attend Duke and go on to medical school to become a doctor and an anesthesiologist.

But in the meantime, because of his own experiences at the Boys & Girls Club, he intends to keep showing up there, as a volunteer.

"I just love being around the club environment and helping these kids, helping them with schoolwork brings a smile to my face, serving lunch, playing games, cleaning up, assisting Ms. Wooten," he said.

Being twice selected as Youth of the Year at the club -- based on behavior, grades and the way the nominee carries himself at the club, church, school and home -- was meaningful to him, he says.

And so is the whole notion of being a role model to others.

"It means that I have to be on my best behavior and show these kids that this is what you're supposed to be doing, not only when you're at the club but when you're out with your friends," he said. "I just be myself and try to be the best person I can be."

He has a built-in reminder of that in the form of his younger brother, he says.

"I kind of push him a little harder than I do all these other kids, make sure he's in a straight line, going down the right path," he said.

In anticipation of the upcoming state summit, sponsored by the N.C. Association of County Commissioners, he recently attended a local commission meeting and had lunch with the group.

"It was great," he said of the experience. "I got to tour where the old Sportsman's World was (proposed home of Services on Aging). That's the first time I toured something in construction."

He also had a chance to ask them questions about their role as civic leaders and decision-makers. That will come in handy next month, since the youth summit similarly allows youth representatives from each county across the state to learn more about the issues faced by county governments.