Shrewsbury teens attend Youth Leadership Institute
Shrewsbury – Shrewsbury teens who wanted to try their wings as leaders got the chance during the week-long program, Trailblazers: the Shrewsbury Youth Leadership Institute that took place last month. But the program benefited more than just the kids involved.
Each of five teams took on a project to help an organization in town.
“We worked on ADVISE [Against Domestic Violence in Shrewsbury Education],” sophomore Josh Bryant said.
“We created a website and a new brochure for the organization,” said freshman Katie Bean, one of his teammates.
The sense of accomplishment was one attraction of the program for another teammate, Kevin Chen.
“You really do something in the community,” the high school junior said. “You get real life experience.”
Olivia Deflumeri, a freshman whose team worked to promote the Trailblazer program, including posting a video on Youtube, said the project helped them learn how to lead.
“We got to learn about each other, and how to cooperate and compromise,” she said.
The five teams each had five members. Over the course of the week, each person was team leader for one day, and along with the group project, the teams took part in daily competitions and team-building exercises.
Run by Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SFYS), the program was also sponsored by local businesses, including Central One Credit Union, Shrewsbury Credit Union, the Rotary Club and the Webster Five Cent Savings Bank.
SFYS Executive Director Jeffrey Chin led the program. As presentations of each group project wound down, he praised the participants.
“It’s so nice to see so many people in Shrewsbury so invested in the community and in themselves,” he said.
Ryan Bean came to the program because his parents signed him up, not because of any interest on his part. But his attitude shifted quickly, he said.
“From day one, I’m definitely 110 percent positive,” he said. “I’m applying again next year.”
Projects to help five local community groups included video, websites, pamphlets, posters and even water bottles labeled to promote the Shrewsbury town scholarship. That suited Casey Sullivan, a junior, whose team worked on the Partnership for Healthy Pathways .
“I really like to get involved in community things,” she said. “And I really like to look for the leadership positions.”
The program gave Ken Harrington, a freshman at St. John’s High School, a chance to step out of his comfort zone.
“I wanted to learn how to become a leader,” he said. “I’m usually shy and reserved, and I wanted to learn how to take charge and be a leader.”
For his brother Matt, a junior at St. John’s, the program was a chance to learn, and something more.
“I thought it was a good opportunity to learn to be a leader,” he said. “It turned out to be a really great week.”
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