Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
My involvement with the American Red Cross began in the fall of 1996. After many phone calls and meetings to talk about responsibilities and requirements as a volunteer, I decided to do my Jepson Internship as the Youth Coordinator for the Red Cross. During my semester downtown on Main Street, I learned a great deal about non-profit organizations in general and the Red Cross specifically. The employees there became both my role models and my friends. As the fall semester came to a close, we talked about the possibility of my continuing my association with the Red Cross by finding a task that could become my Senior Project. One area of Youth Services that especially interested me was the annual Youth Leadership Development Conference. In talking with some Human Resources employees, I learned that the program had never been revised since its creation in 1989. It contained some basic leadership concepts, but there was no in-depth research to explain why the ideas needed to be taught to youth. In the back of my mind, a Senior Project began to emerge from this information.
My next step to begin this project was to meet with Jane Wells, my internship supervisor. When I broached the idea of a revision of the conference as my Senior Project, she became very excited and encouraged me in this direction. The Red Cross is constantly under budget constraints, and often Youth Services is one of the first areas to be cut. Jane felt that if I could explain and emphasize the importance of youth leadership to the Red Cross, it would help to ensure adequate funding for the Youth Leadership Development Conference for the coming year and future years as well. My reason for choosing this project was that I, too, feel that youth leadership development is an important step in training the leaders of tomorrow. In junior high and high school, I benefited as a leader by attending student council camps and retreats for youth leaders. By focusing my Senior Project on one such program, the benefits I received will be felt by the generation following behind me.
The American Red Cross Youth Leadership Development Conference is an excellent way to begin to teach leadership skills to young people. Whether these teens are youth leaders or at-risk students, the lessons taught at the conference can have significant, long-term benefits on the individual, their peers, and the community at large. The curriculum helps to develop student self-esteem and self-confidence. This conference can have broad-reaching positive effects on such social dilemmas as high school truancy and drop-out rates, youth crime, and teen pregnancy. I would recommend that the American Red Cross continue to fund this conference, since part of its mission statement is to "enable youth to be responsible and capable young leaders." The topics presented in the Youth Leadership Development Conference will help students become confident and committed leaders in both peer groups and the community.
Lynam, Colleen M., "Leadership and its impact on young people attending American Red Cross Youth Development Conference" (1997). Honors Theses. 1198.