Last week I had the chance to attend the Project Kickoff Celebration for Youth As Resources at the Arthur M. Glick Jewish Community Center. If you are not familiar with YAR and its work, then you are missing out on something special happening in our community. YAR, a program of United Way of Central Indiana, is a youth/adult led entity which provides small grants to groups of young people who want to address a community need or problem that they have identified, researched, and developed a service project to address. The service projects are as varied as the groups that propose them and the issues they are addressing; but the common thread is a committed crew of youth who believe they can make a difference and make our community a better place for others.
Through the years, what a difference they have made! Since its beginning, YAR has provided over $2 million to fund 1,384 projects involving almost 37,000 youth whose efforts have changed the lives of who knows how many people! Young people have brought smiles and gifts to our elderly; have taught young children how to make good decisions about drug and alcohol usage; helped peers to achieve academically and socially by leading skill development workshops; improved the environment of neighborhoods by leading cleanups; if you name it, a dedicated group of youth have probably carried out a service project—thanks to funding and guidance provided by Youth As Resources.
We all know what the research says: a young person who volunteers and gives back to the community is much more likely to graduate from high school, do well in life, and continue their community action when they become adults. The skills they hone to develop and present their ideas and the positive experience of working together as a team to make somebody else happy obviously remain with a young person for a long time; for some YAR participants, their community service is literally a life-changing experience.
Thank you, Youth As Resources staff and volunteer board members, for making it possible for young people to be actively involved in making our community a better place. Thank you to the more than 37,000 young people who have shared their time and talent to make our community a better place. You are all are youth champions!