YMCA TEEN LEADERS CLUB:
A NATIONAL TEEN PROGRAM PROVIDING MEMBERS WITH LEADERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES IN THEIR COMMUNITY
YMCA Leaders Club (open to youth is grades 6-12) is a YMCA of the USA national program that provides club members with many opportunities for leadership training, personal growth, service to others and social development. By connecting with adult advisors, teens have positive role models and mentors who can have an impact on their lives. Participants meet on a weekly basis in a structured and safe environment. Activities include: service-learning projects, volunteer and fundraising events, academic support, field trips and weekend regional rallies throughout the school year. Those interested in joining the Leaders program can reach out to Larry Harding at firstname.lastname@example.org to inquire further.
Larry Harding, who has been a Leaders Club advisor for nearly 20 years, has seen many youth grow through this program. “Our primary focus in the Leaders Club Program is on instilling character values in all of our Leaders and how they can make a difference in themselves, each other and the community. Leaders Club provides the youth a welcoming and a judgement-free atmosphere where they can focus on becoming the person and leader they were meant to be. No one leader is more important than the other. Everyone has their differences and as we harness and celebrate those differences, these leaders create those positive relationships and connections that are the core of the Leaders Club Program.” The Club’s mission is: “To provide each Leader in the Nashua Leaders Club the building blocks to enter the real world with all the tools necessary to be the positive leader and individual they were meant to be, through a fun, safe and non-judgmental and legendary program.” Larry shares that “the Club’s goal is to be a place where Leaders can discover themselves and be all they can be. And how that transcends to all their relationships – relationship with self, family, friends, and the community – to make the world a better place.”
Each year, when the Leaders come together, they set their own ground rules. Some of our Leaders Ground Rules that are significant to our Nashua Leaders Club Program are:
One Mic (which means only one Leader/Advisor talking at a time, which also means the rest are Listening)
What’s Said in Leaders Stays Within the Leaders Walls (we open up a lot about ourselves and sometimes they can be highly personal to each Leader so we don’t want anyone going back and sharing personal information about other Leaders)
Shiny Rock (As teens, they will at times most certainly get off the topic we are discussing and Shiny Rock when said brings the group back to the topic at hand)
Accept Others (we are all coming from different backgrounds, have different views but when you walk through the door we should Accept each Leader for who they are so they can have the courage to continue being their authentic self)
Step Outside Your Comfort Zone (We encourage ALL Leaders to go beyond what they feel they can do or who they can be because you never know how far you go or who you can truly be unless you Step Outside your Comfort Level to be their authentic self)
And in the words of one of our Leaders “I think these ground rules all really foster a community of Listening and Acceptance”
Community service both within and outside of the YMCA walls is a huge component of Leaders Club. Leaders have volunteered with the Y’s Breakfast with Santa, the YMCA Auction, Spooktacular Halloween event, and many family events. They are have partnered with the American Cancer Society and its Breast Cancer Walk and the MS Society’s Walk-a-thons. Most recently, Leaders participated in the Drive-Thru Santa Event held at St. Joseph Hospital and volunteered as Bell Ringers for the Salvation Army. At the hospital, they decorated a Christmas tree and greeted families as they drove through to see Christmas trees and wave to Santa. They have partnered with the United Way for diaper drives and the Blizzard Blast. “All of our leaders take great pride in getting out to volunteer in the community. It is so important to not only give back to those in need but for these youth to make those community connections,” Larry said.
“One of our most significant Service Learning Projects was doing our trip to New Orleans helping to repair houses over the past several years in the Ninth Ward which was devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We teamed with SBP (Saint Bernard’s Project, a nonprofit, disaster relief organization ) who are on the frontlines working with AmeriCorps volunteers and volunteer groups like us to help rebuild and repair homes for those in need,” he said.
Larry is also proud of the Leaders participation in the Nashua Prevention Coalition. They have taken part in such projects as the Youth Video Project and Red Ribbon Week, a week focused on raising awareness of the need for alcohol, tobacco and other drug and violence prevention, early intervention, and treatment services.
One of the best and most important components of the Leaders Club Program are the Regional Leaders Club Rallies, held on select weekends throughout the year at YMCA Camp Jewell in Connecticut and Camp Beckett YMCA in Western Mass. These Rallies are a Leadership Development Program that expand upon the work that we do at our local YMCA Leaders Clubs, expose the youth to new and innovative programming we can bring back and use in our local Leaders Club Programs, expand their connections and networking with their peers and other adult mentors and role models throughout the Northeast Region. In 2012, the Nashua YMCA Leaders Club was asked to be the host club for the Northeast Regional Autumn Rally at Camp Jewell. This was an honor for our club to be chosen for this leadership role, planning a full weekend of activities for hundreds of teens from across New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York.
One of the most significant events we attend every year is the Northeast Leaders School. Currently held on the campus of Springfield (Mass.) College, It’s a week-long leadership development program held the last week of July that culminates all that we have accomplished as a program throughout the entire year. It is one last opportunity for our Leaders and staff to come together, build relationships and network with each other.
Do you have a middle school or high student who may be interested in learning more? Currently, the Nashua Leaders program meets every Monday from 7pm-9pm both in-person and virtually via Zoom. The program has a rolling admission. The Leaders Club is always looking to welcome more youth. Contact Advisor Larry Harding at email@example.com to learn more.
“Our primary focus in the Leaders Club Program is on instilling character values in all of our Leaders and how they can make a difference in themselves, each other and the community. Leaders Club provides the youth a welcoming and a judgement-free atmosphere where they can focus on becoming the person and leader they were meant to be. No one leader is more important than the other. Everyone has their differences and as we harness and celebrate those differences these leaders create those positive relationships and connections that are the core of the Leaders Club Program.”
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