T(w)een Camps and Afterschool Organizations
Camps and extracurriculars often focus on teaching a skill or honing a talent. These OC opportunities teach our tweens and teens something even more important, how to become a leader
Stopping Bullies with a Roar
Giving back. It is the opposite of what we think of when “teen” is mentioned. However, this concept is a worthy draw for those inspired to change the landscape of the society in which they live. Open to any teenager with a desire to invest their time in helping others, Lion’s Heart empowers teens to volunteer for a multitude of organizations and also helps them develop into community leaders.
Lion’s Heart has recently partnered with Project HEAR Us (Helping Everyone Achieve Respect) in order to train nearly 100 OC kids to teach the skills of bully prevention to middle school students. Teens gain insight about what onlookers can do when faced with a bullying situation. Then, they will learn firsthand how to become advocates for those bullied before taking what they have learned into the middle school classrooms in their communities. Schools across Orange County are thrilled to have responsible, well-trained teens coaching and teaching about such hot topics.
“The engagement and effectiveness found by using role-model students as classroom instructors has been shown to exceed that of other instructional approaches — including teacher-led delivery of these same programs,” says Project HEAR US representatives.
Lion’s Heart and Project Hear Us are joining forces to create extraordinary citizens out of otherwise ordinary teens all over Orange County. While not every teen can be a scholar athlete, homecoming queen, or graduate on a path to an Ivy League, every teen can make a difference in the lives of others with s small investment of time. To find out how to get involved, visit Lion’s Heart (lionsheartservice.org) and Project Hear Us (projecthearus.org).
Lion’s Heart kids wrap up a food pantry project.
Ladera Ranch Community-Turning Teens into Leaders
When young families began to populate the neighborhoods of Ladera Ranch, programs and events were designed to fit their needs. Years later, as those toddlers turned tweens and then teens, Ladera Ranch Community Service (LARCS), a residential organization seeking to bring together the residents of Ladera Ranch, saw a need for helping these older kids connect and get involved. They asked themselves, “What can we do for the teenagers in our neighborhood?” With an eye to positively impact the growing teen population, they sent out applications to residents to solicit members for their Teen Leadership Council (TLC). In 2010, applicants were interviewed and 25 inaugural members were chosen.
The Teen Leadership Council forms planning committees for city events, and volunteers their time to implement and launch neighborhood activities. Local board members and community leaders stepped up to provide mentoring for the young men and women.
“We discovered that there are a lot of really great teens out there and we wanted them to be part of TLC,” said Tamara Bush, Events Coordinator for LARCS. “The group’s focus is primarily leadership education, mentorship, community service projects, volunteerism, event planning, and community engagement.”
The TLC dedicates their skills, talents, and time in order to help Ladera Ranch exceed the standards of their community. Learning how to execute outreach opportunities is a key component to the council. Through the planning stages, the members learn what it takes to advertise for an event, how to develop public relation skills, how to create booth activities and what it takes to work within the confines of a budget. The 25-strong team is also working with other area teens in order to build an awareness about TLC to keep the organization strong as they pass the baton and head out into the world.
“As an entrepreneur, business person, community leader and father of two girls, I have been very impressed with this group of kids. They are gaining meaningful experience and they are truly exemplary leaders,” said David Robertson, Communications Manager for the community.
These self-motivated and enthusiastic teens work hard to overcome the typical stereotype of teenagers and to create change in their community. If you live in Ladera Ranch and would like more information, please visit: www.laderalife.com
Ladera Ranch Teen Leadership Council members work on a recycle stream project.
Orange Country is Generating High School “Bigs”
There are myriad opportunities to build self-confidence in elementary-aged kids. One of the most effective methods is one-to-one mentoring. This becomes even more exciting and impactful when the mentor happens to be a friendly, consistent teenager who helps with school and homework. Nearly all 2nd-5th graders vie to be a Little to one of the new breed of high school Bigs.
Launched more than 10 years ago, the High School Bigs program currently serves more than 25 elementary schools and generates Big from 35 high schools throughout Orange County. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Orange County strategically matches high school students with kids who share the same likes and dislikes. These Bigs provide homework help, tutoring, and relationship building blocks with other Bigs and Littles in a group setting. The specially designed curriculum addresses bullying and self-esteem.
“We want high school students to learn the importance of giving back to their community,” said Jessica Romley, the program’s director.
Teens commit to a one year contract to spend one scheduled day per week at the school where the Little attends and mentor them from 3:30-4:30pm. The Big benefits by learning leadership skills, accountability, consistency, and responsibility. Many of the Littles come from single parent homes or have two parents who work full time. Having a Big who supports them in their academics and who is also able to provide help with social skills is important for their success in school and with their peers. Statistically, when students are more confident with their school work, they are less likely to skip school and more likely to get along with their family members and peers.
“My Big gives me confidence with things I’m not sure about,” said a Little from Beswick Elementary in Tustin, CA.
Having healthy role models who are high school students as a constant in the life of a Little, isn’t just big, it’s huge.
Big Brother Kyle chats with his Little after school.