Moffat County Locals: Youth of the Year Brooklyn Hickey has overcome the odds | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Locals: Youth of the Year Brooklyn Hickey has overcome the odds

Boys & Girls Club staff member Brooklyn Hickey felt blessed to receive Youth of the Year during Cowboy Christmas Saturday. Hickey won the award for a speech she wrote about how the organization helped her as a child and later as an employee.

At age 3, Craig's Brooklyn Hickey was diagnosed with delayed motor and language skills, and, at the time, doctors predicted she would struggle both socially and academically and perform as a C student, at best.

Now a Moffat County High School senior on the verge of graduating, with only a few steps to go in also earning a college degree, Brooklyn is proud to say she has far exceeded those early expectations.

Brooklyn recently shared her story as part of her acceptance speech after being named 2017 Youth of the Year for Boys & Girls Club of Craig, the institution at which she first began to blossom at age 7.

Attending the club after school was something she looked forward to, as interaction became less challenging and acceptance came more freely, compared to school hours, where she had trouble connecting with other kids.

"I was really quiet and shy and didn't talk to anyone," she said. "They put me in the gym more and more, and I loved playing basketball and volleyball. People didn't see me as different, and I had friends and didn't just hide in the corner."

With increased participation in sports and other activities came greater confidence in other areas, and Brooklyn saw herself doing better in school.

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This past summer, she returned to the place that helped her develop as a person, now serving as a red shirt staff member and working with kids at the Boys & Girls Club.

In addition to empathizing with children who struggle in school, she also provides guidance for youngsters who come from "split homes," as she knows what it's like to have divorced parents.

"They have a hard time understanding things, but they're so comfortable grabbing me aside and talking about things, like, 'I had a bad day at school,' and I teach them how they can deal with situations like that," she said. "They're getting to an age where real-world things are happening to them."

Among the programs Brooklyn oversees are Cowboy Ethics, Campfire Ethics and Gadget Girls, the last of which helps foster an enjoyment of science, math and engineering for female club members.

With plans to earn a diploma from Colorado Northwestern Community College's Rangely campus, Brooklyn's career goal is to become a dental hygienist, focusing in pediatric care.

"I want to specialize with kids, help them gain confidence with a better, brighter smile," she said.

As for the immediate future and her Youth of the Year award, she will compete with Steamboat Springs Boys & Girls Club members in January for the chance to represent Northwest Colorado at the state level.

Courses in public speaking have helped, especially after speech therapy, which lasted until she was in sixth grade.

"It is nerve-wracking, but I want to come over my obstacles, and I really want to prove the doctors wrong that said I couldn't do that," she said.

Boys & Girls Club of Craig Unit Director Kari Zimmerman said she has consistently been impressed by Brooklyn's work at the club.

"She's such a role model for her peers in how she implements her programs. She's always the first to volunteer, and all the kids here really look up to her and admire her," Zimmerman said. "She's so friendly and compassionate. She's something special, and we're really proud of her."