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Redding Teen Honored As 'Youth Of The Year'

From left: State Rep. John Shaban poses with Boys & Girls Club of Redding-Easton Youth of the Year Sophie Ota and Unit Director Unit Director Matthew Johns during their visit to the Capitol building.
From left: State Rep. John Shaban poses with Boys & Girls Club of Redding-Easton Youth of the Year Sophie Ota and Unit Director Unit Director Matthew Johns during their visit to the Capitol building. Photo Credit: Contributed

REDDING, Conn. – Redding’s Sophie Ota visited the State Capitol recently as the winner of the Youth of the Year award for Boys & Girls Club of Redding-Easton.

Sophie and Club Unit Director Matthew Johns met with state Rep. John Shaban in recognition of the honor. Sophie also earned a $1,000 college scholarship and the right to compete for the state and regional Youth of the Year Awards.

Each Boys & Girls Club branch gives the award out each year to one member for outstanding contributions to a member’s family, school, community and the club itself, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles.

“Youth of the Year encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities,” the organization says on its website. "Youth of the Year honorees are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Boys & Girls Clubs.”

Now 16, Sophie has been a Boys & Girls Club member since she signed up for T-ball leagues as a kid. She now does volunteer work for the club every spring and summer, including serving as co-president of the Keystone Club for community service. She also runs the club’s annual photography contest and its concession stand.

In the larger community, Sophie has turned her love of art into many community service projects. She ran mask-painting activity stations at the Redding Elementary School Annual Art Fest and the Redding Girls Scouts Annual World Thinking Day celebration. She also has done makeup and costume work for Joel Barlow High School drama club productions.

Sophie is also a talented writer. She won Joel Barlow’s National Council of Teachers of English writing contest this year and will represent the school in the state competition. She is also editor in chief of the school yearbook. She also competes in cross-country and both indoor and outdoor track.

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Sophie for the past 10 years. She truly embodies the qualities of a leader,” club Executive Director Carlos Collazo said in a statement. “She is a very passionate about everything she does and her enthusiasm is contagious.”

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