KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- This week's Reaching for Excellence young achiever is the 2017 Kansas City Youth of the Year winner for the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Kansas City.
Kaeshawn Smith won the judges over with her charisma and drive. Her mission is very clear: Help the youth of America thrive.
“I know what it's like to be that sad kid crying, all alone, feeling like you have no one to listen to you and I refuse to sit and let that happen to any other kid," she said.
The Sumner Academy sophomore is in the process of creating a non-profit called "Stop, Listen to Our Youth."
Besides motivating the youth of America, her non-profit will also place a big emphasis on networking -- connecting kids with a dream with adults already living it.
“For instance, I want to be a neurologist, but there's not a lot of African-American women who are neurologists, so it makes it hard for me to get in contact with them. But for instance, if someone had that dream and came to my organization, we would help network them," she explained.
There's also a big focus on mental health.
“I went through not feeling accepted and all this loneliness, being bullied and having no one to talk to about it, lead me to go through depression a lot,” she described.
That’s something she doesn't want to see any child go through.
"You can talk to a psychiatrist or anyone you need to talk to, to help you get better,” she said.
The key, however, is listening; listening to the young voices and encouraging them to follow their dreams. Smith is also part of the International Baccalaureate program at her school – and heads to the state competition in April.