Holyoke Boys And Girls Club has chosen their 2021 Youth Of The Year. The Youth Of The Year event happens annually and exists to celebrate a youth from our community that shows community leadership, good personality, and exhibits role model behavior. The Youth of the Year for 2021 is Kaizer Maximus Lopez, an eighteen year old all star basketball player born and raised in Holyoke. Kaizer Maximus attended Holyoke Public Schools from preschool until eighth grade. He then began studying at White Oak School in Westfield to continue his basketball career.
Kaizer has been working as a staff member for the Boys and Girls Club since he aged out as an attendee and he is liked by both coworkers and kids alike. He has plans to pursue college basketball after graduation and continue on to the NBA. His alternative career plan is to be a P.E teacher for the school system and to give back to the community. Education-wise, Kaizer Maximus has maintained a 3.6 GPA and excels in all of his classes, despite having Dyslexia. This has not stopped him in the past. Maximus Lopez is known for his amazing way with words and communication.
Kaizer is a big activist for the ideals in which he believes. He notably attended a Black Lives Matter protest in Boston this past summer with his colleagues. He even wrote an essay to accept his award. “When I was in elementary school, I didn’t realize I had a learning disability. I didn’t know and didn’t care that I was continuing to fall behind in school. I did my best and was content. I eventually heard the teachers say, I wasn’t trying or that I would never learn how to read or write. In middle school, I began to attend White Oak School, a school for students who have language based disabilities. I read poorly, and I process spoken language slowly. I avoid reading books. I didn’t retain much general knowledge. I have trouble remembering names. I even struggle to remember small but important details. Throughout my life, daily challenges like these have left me tired of trying really hard, but not seeing the results I was after. My pride was hurt but I hid it the best I could. In some ways, my learning disabilities have actually prepared me well to never give up and to keep on fighting to succeed. I have learned to remind myself that I excel in some areas, and that I can ask for help in the areas I do not. Although asking for help can be difficult, it’s incredibly important for people with learning disabilities—and it’s equally important that their communities provide it. I never would have overcome my failures if it weren’t for constant support from my family and friends; the reasonable accommodations I received in school thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act; the confidence of my teachers, who treated me like a normal student who happened to need teacher notes and templates, extra time on exams; and my school teachers and advisors, peers, who pushed me to be the best student, I could be.” Kaizer Maximus’ essay was very powerful and inspiring, but this was my favorite part. Congratulations KML, you deserve this.