One of my favorite programs at the Y that I run is our Teen Leader Corps, which is a club for teens in grades 9-12 who are interested in developing leadership skills while volunteering and doing community service. Our current Leader Corps crew is a great group of teens with diverse interests and backgrounds – we’ve got home school students, Y employees, and members who are on the Keene High basketball team – but all want to help others and grow as individuals and leaders in our community.
In the past, Leader Corps has gotten involved in a variety of projects, from doing a holiday food drive to support the Keene Community Kitchen to helping out with events at the Y, ranging from Teen Nights Out and our annual Climbing Festival to the Y’s very first Senior Olympics. This year, the teens have committed to providing even more service – so far they’ve logged hours serving dinner at the Community Kitchen and are already planning our first Teen Night Out taking place later this month.
Part of what makes Leader Corps so special is that it isn’t just about logging hours. The teens pick projects that genuinely interest them, and they have fun too. This year, several teens have committed to running together a couple of times a week as a way to socialize and stay fit. Last night, after one of our regular meetings, a couple members stayed late to help fluff the foam pit in our gymnastics area, which is necessary to maintain the safety of that area and longevity of the equipment. They ended up playing and helping at the same time. These teens prove that giving your time to others is not only good for society, but personally rewarding as well, and doing it as part of a group is a great way to build and maintain friendships.
I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to regularly interact with and mentor young people in our community who inspire me daily, make me laugh, and remind me that work doesn’t have to feel like work if you do it with the right people and the right attitude. I’m very proud of these teens and of all the work they have done and will continue to do.
At the Y, Youth Development, Healthy Living, and Social Responsibility are at the heart of everything we do. Teen Leader Corps embodies this mantra in every aspect, and I feel honored to be a part of it.