Parent Teacher Magazine Gaston County Schools Nov/Dec 2017 - Page 5

Teens Prepare for Leaders’ Club Inductions at the YMCA Volunteer club teaches leadership skills, physical fitness and character development School isn’t the only thing that started again in the fall. The YMCAs Leaders’ Club back in action. Leaders’ is a club for teens ages 13-18 that teaches leadership through volunteerism, community service, physical education, and character development. Swing Set Dedication Belmont Central Elementary dedicated a new swing set for second and third graders thanks to the efforts of fifth-grade student Lilly Floyd. Lilly’s idea started nearly two years when she noticed that while she and her classmates were having fun on the fourth and fifth grades playground, the second and third grades playground did not have a swing set. With the help of her parents, classmates, and community, Lilly’s vision is now a reality. The main function of Leaders’ is to provide an outlet for members to engage in their community through service. Leaders are trained to help coach and officiate the YMCA’s youth sports and assist swim lessons. The club also takes a central role in organizing and running special events such as Fall Festival and 5K races. Many Leaders end up taking jobs at the Y as they age. “Leaders’ Club is a vital component of our Y,” said Des’Tri Martin, Teen Director, Stowe Family YMCA. “In fact, many of our strongest employees got their start as Leaders.” There is more to the club than working at the Y, however. Through classes and group workouts, participants learn techniques necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle, such as healthy eating habits and the benefits of regular exercise. “Now more than ever, it’s important to provide youth with the means to live happy and healthy lives,” Martin said. “The Club is a fun and supportive way to do so.” At meetings, Leaders engage in discussion and devotionals that spur thought about personal development. The values espoused center around the four core YMCA values: caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility. The goal is to foster self-esteem and produce young adults who contribute positively to the community around them. Of course, there is plenty of time for fun. Not only do clubs take part in monthly social events, participants also get the opportunity to travel and engage with other clubs from around the country. In June, the club attended Blue Ridge Leaders’ School in Black Mountain, North Carolina. Blue Ridge is a week-long conference that hosts more than 800 Leaders from throughout the southeast United States. “I joined Leaders’ three years ago and I’m so glad I did,” said Naidelyn Cruz, 16. “I’ve met so many awesome people and even when we are busy, we have a great time.” International Walk to School Day Did you hear about International Walk to School Day at Lingerfeldt Elementary? It was a great event! Students and parents gathered before school on October 4 to walk from the nearby Family Dollar parking lot to the campus. They were joined by Superintendent of Schools W. Jeffrey Booker, Gastonia mayor John Bridgeman, and representatives from the Gaston County Health Department and LanXESS, one of the school’s outstanding business partners. To learn more about the Leaders’ Club, please contact Des’Tri Martin at dmartin@gastonymca.org or 704.822.9622. About the Gaston County Family YMCA The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 22 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities that to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the longest-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. gastonymca.org Parent Teacher Magazine• November/December 2017• 3