Youth Leadership Walker County is a program for high school juniors in the Walker County area. Students may apply for the opportunity to participate in community research and service projects. This program is limited to only about forty accepted juniors each year. If accepted, the students leave school for one day each month to meet and learn more about our community. After their acceptance, the forty teenagers are divided up into teams: Red Team, Orange Team, Yellow Team, Green Team, and Blue Team. Each team contains students from every school in the Walker County Area.
Since November, nineteen Walker High School juniors have participated in activities at both Camp Orear and the CHS Building. Last, the students were given their most difficult task, yet. Each team was assigned a Non-Profit organization to go visit and research in order to decide which was more deserving of the one thousand dollar grant offered by Youth Leadership of Walker County each year. After their visits, the students returned to the CHS building to present their Non-Profits and help it to receive the grant.
Blue team visited The ARC, a Non-profit organization, whose goal is to help children with intellectual and physical disabilities get the care, treatment, and therapy needed to help their development. The ARC’s grant was asking for a donation to be put towards their purchase of an ebook to help their students learn to read and better develop speaking skills. Red team was able to visit Mission Hope, an organization helping to feed those in need throughout a large area. Mission Hope wanted to put on an Easter Party for the people they serve so that they could be fed for a day, and the children could enjoy a day of fun. Green team visited Community Options, a program for intellectually disabled individuals who had already graduated from highschool, but need help learning everyday skills from things as simple as brushing their teeth on their own to learning how to pay bills. Community Options had the idea to set up a computer work station for their students so they could interact socially, learn basic computer skills, and familiarize themselves with technology. Orange team had the privilege and learning experience of visiting Hope Clinic, which provides medicines to people who cannot afford them. Hope Clinic was in need of a four thousand dollar pill counter that they had already raised three thousand dollars for. The pill counter would allow them to keep medicines from expiring and would allow them to get it to the individuals they serve faster and more efficiently. Finally, Yellow team visited the Salvation Army, a service organization that helps people in need. The Salvation Army was hoping to begin a program to teach people how to cook for themselves and provide more nutritional meals for their families on a very low budget. In order to do that, they needed to revamp their kitchen facilities and provide the families with materials to cook with.
Each group presented their organization, voted, and narrowed it down to two: The ARC and Community Options. One final argument was held, and the decision was made that the grant would go to ARC in order to fund the ebook. Community Options received a five hundred dollar donation from Alabama Power for being selected as second. Each team and student was fortunate enough to learn more about Non-Profits, how they work, and how each is important to our community.
This activity was certainly the hardest for the students, as they all knew how much each organization deserved the grant and how the money would be spent well in any direction. The students grew more and more passionate about their individual Non-Profits groups as time wore on, and began to realize how important each one was after hearing each other talk their organization. The students learned a valuable lesson on service, however, and many claimed they would be speaking with their service clubs about developing projects with the organizations they visited.
By: Hadley Skalnik