Western Mass News – WGGB/WSHM

SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) – Amidst the violence throughout the city, one Springfield teen is inspiring others to stay off the streets and join the club that has kept him motivated the past six years.

Jason Feliciano is the “Youth of the Year” recipient for the Springfield Boys and Girls Club.

“If you want something, you have to go get it,” Feliciano said.

On and off the court, Feliciano is a leader. He’s the captain of his high school basketball team, the student ambassador in the halls and a mentor to young members of the Boys and Girls club. Jason says he’s overcome many obstacles to get to where he’s at today.

“I haven’t found myself in the streets,” he said. “And I give big thanks to my parents, but also to the community for having this (the club) here.”

Spending hours on the court perfecting his game has taught him how to express himself and to create goals for his future.

“He’s one of those members that the staff is always bragging about what a great job he’s doing, what a leader he is within the club and within the community,” Springfield Boys and Girls Club executive director Sarah Tsitso said. “The youth that come here means that they are doing something actually beneficial with their time instead of being on the streets.”

The 17-year-old Hampden Charter School of Science junior has goals for himself and for the city of Springfield.

“My goal is for Springfield to be a place people visit all the time,” he said. “It’s one of the best places in the world but there’s just like a bunch of negative stuff that we have here that’s just not necessary.”

As for Feliciano’s future, he hopes to attend Boston University and become a physician.

“He really is an outstanding young man and I can’t wait to see all he’s going to do in the world,” Tsitso said.

Feliciano will go on to compete as “Youth of the Year” for the state next month. He has the chance of winning a $50,000 scholarship if he goes on to become the overall national “Youth of the Year” winner.

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