Local Youth of the Year return from unforgettable 10-day China trip

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- From East Los Angeles to China and back, Raven Wolfgang Leos just returned from a life-changing journey.

Growing up, Raven found structure and support at the Boys and Girls Club as his father battled addiction.

This year, his club in East L.A. selected him as their Youth of the Year nominee.

He recently joined 21 other L.A. County Youths of the Year on a 10-day trip to the Far East.

"I feel like I grew an entirely second family," Raven said.

Mary Hewitt organized the trip. Nothing like it had ever been done by any other Boys and Girls Club group.

"The bottom line, when we originally started talking about this was to find a way to give our kids an experience that they wouldn't be able to achieve necessarily on their own," Hewitt shared.

Chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce Sherman Zhang helped ensure that all of the students traveled at no cost.

The kids visited businesses, schools and even Shanghai Disney.

Pasadena's Ivonne Marie Gonzalez will never forget a lesson in Chinese calligraphy when a student wrote out for her (in Chinese) "Anything's possible!"

"Anything's possible! This trip? I didn't even know - and it was possible," Gonzalez said.

Eyewitness News has been working with these particular kids for months and has seen tremendous growth.

When ABC7 first mentored them in February, they were mostly shy. At the Youth of the Year awards in May, they were excited but anxious. And at the airport before takeoff, they were apprehensive but by the trip's end, they were confident and worldly.

Raven said he wants to take what he learned from kids in China and teach kids in East L.A.

"Those barriers are your mountains," Raven said. "So you really have to take on those mountains and take on that climb so you can ascend into your life."

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