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Programs help teens learn leadership

Volunteer opportunities create ways to serve community, seek personal growth.

September 21, 2011|By Daniel Siegal, daniel.siegal@latimes.com

From soccer practice to student government, there seems to be no shortage of activities to keep high-achieving La Cañada Flintridge teens busy at school. But for teens who want to do something a little different, a pair of programs aims to give them a chance to get involved with the community.

The Community Center of LCF’s Youth Outreach and Events Committee offers local teens a chance to take some initiative and plan events like a dance for area teens and the Community Center’s annual Thanksgiving Day run and food drive. The group meets semi-monthly on Wednesdays, said coordinator Melissa Mills.

The Crescenta-Cañada YMCA’s Progressive Individual Leadership of Teens program will return Sept. 29 and will host weekly meetings on Thursdays from 7-8 p.m. The program, under the guidance of new coordinator Cameron Singleton, is planning to focus on volunteer activities like organizing food drives and serving the homeless.

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Kim Beattie, director of development at YMCA, said that these programs give teens a chance to make new friends.

“The nice thing about the YMCA programs is that it draws from all the area high schools,” said Beattie. “So the kids have an opportunity to sort of get out of their little niche at school and meet new kids and be in a much more opened, less structured environment for them socially.”

It’s clearly working, as Beattie said the program, which has been around for more than five years, expects to have approximately 100 teens participating this year.

For the Community Center’s Youth Outreach committee, however, finding participants for this revitalized program is more of a focus. Mills said that the committee has 12 core members and brings in other teens to help with specific projects.

“I would love to have 50 names of kids that we could contact and just have them work events, be T-ball coaches or be camp counselors in the summer,” said Mills.

Mills said part of her mission for the Youth Outreach program is to make it more than just a volunteering opportunity.

“I’m hoping to really launch it, turn it into more of a mentoring program, as well as just a way for teens all over the community and all the different high schools to get involved,” said Mills.

Mills added that she wants to increase the mentoring focus of the program, help participating students raise their self esteem and “think about their future and think about where they are and where they want to be.”

Mills said that she leads the group in exercises like identifying a person who has influenced them or writing letters to themselves, to be sent out in a year, to help them realize their potential for growth.

Committee co-president and LCHS senior Ailin Kim said that these exercises have made an impact.

“I think she really helped with building self esteem and teamwork,” said Kim. “It has helped me develop me into a better person.”


INFOBOX:

If you know a teen who wants to get involved, (or are one yourself), contact:

Youth Outreach and Events Committee: Melissa Mills, (818) 790-4353; www.facebook.com/groups/youthoutreachandevents/

Progressive Individual Leadership of Teens: Cameron Singleton, (818) 790-0123 ext. 215; www.ymcacc.org
 
 

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