By Joan Goodchild, Community Reporter
Shrewsbury – As captain of the Shrewsbury High School (SHS) gymnastics team, Mary Grace McGuinn will need to be an effective leader this coming season as she leads her team to what she hopes will be a successful season. This is just one of the reasons why McGuinn worked on polishing her leadership skills this summer.
McGuinn, along with more than 20 other local teens, recently took part in the T.R.A.I.L. (Teen Resources Academy and Institute for Leadership) Blazers Youth Leadership Institute, a week-long program run by the nonprofit Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services (SYFS) that is designed to give them the skills and experience to be active leaders in their community. This is the fourth year for the program, which gives kids an opportunity to discover their own leadership potential. The course is open to applicants in or entering grades 9 through 12.
Applicants who were selected spent the week at SHS examining leadership styles and hearing from guest speakers, as well as taking part in team-building activities and collaborating on a community service project. They presented the results of their work at the end of the session.
McGuinn, who won an individual cash award courtesy of Shrewsbury Federal Credit Union for being the highest-rated leader at the program the week she attended, said she worked with a team on the 15-40 Connection, a charity with the mission to create awareness that cancer is the number one disease-related cause of death among 15- to 40- year olds.
“We had two objectives,” McGuinn said. “We wanted to promote a way for teens to talk to their parents about checking themselves early and going to the doctor. And we wanted a way to show some of the common symptoms for early detection.”
McGuinn believes she was the highest-rated leader of the week because she chose to focus on getting other members of her group to be enthusiastic about the task at hand.
“I’ve learned new ways of leading a team and when we went through the different leadership styles, it also made me look back on leadership opportunities I’ve had in the past and what I might have done differently,” she said.
McGuinn, who is going to be a senior at SHS this year, hopes to pursue a career in culinary arts in the future and hopes to attend Johnson and Wales University in Rhode Island.
In addition to McGuinn's prize, a team cash award from Central One Federal Credit Union went to Briana Huie, Megan Wilson, Jeremy Rocco and John DeFlumeri, all members of team Supreme Sapphires, which worked on a presentation about the Military Child Education Coalition, an organization focused on ensuring quality educational opportunities for all military-connected children affected by mobility, family separation and transition.