By Leeann Akers - Editor
Nov. 27, 2013 — Students participating in the Carter County Youth Leadership Program had an eye-opening experience last week.
The group, which includes 13 high school juniors from the two county high schools, visited local organizations that offer assistance to specific groups within the community.
The group visited the Olive Hill Senior Citizens Center in the morning to learn about aging services offered by FIVCO, the Salvation Army, autism awareness, Olive Hill Meals on Wheels and the First Baptist Food Pantry.
In the afternoon session at the Adult Learning Center, students were introduced to Elijah’s Cupboard Food Pantry, Northeast Area Development Council and the services offered at the AEC.
“Our mission is to identify and strengthen leadership skills in our youth,” said Michelle Wilhoit, program spokesperson. “We want to build their knowledge and self-confidence through sessions that educate them on community businesses, government and charitable organizations. The program will encourage and promote individual responsibility, integrity, and social interaction to prepare them to be the future business and civic leaders of Carter County.”
Although the students seemed to think the experience was positive, they immediately saw needs within the community.
“A big way to improve is to gather more volunteers,” one student said after their experience. “Recruiting volunteers can be tough so the people running these services just need to be encouraging and let people know how important and how big of an impact they can make.”
All of the students suggested more interaction between the organizations and said they hoped to volunteer in the future.
“All of the students are very civic minded,” Wilhoit said. “They can come up with their own ideas to do things they are passionate about. They plan to do programs at the middle school, sponsor a youth center, help the elderly, and unite this community.”
Wilhoit said the East/West separation is not an issue within the YLP and the group blends seamlessly.
“They want to bring east and west together for a joint pep rally,” Wilhoit said. “These students are passionate about bringing the two cities together. One of the things that the adults will be able to see is that East and West Carter students will be in one group working together for the whole community. This isn't about just the east end or the west end. Its about our community.”
Leeann Akers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 474-5101.