Volunteering in the community may seem like a formidable challenge to some, but the participants of the 2016 E4 Youth Summit say otherwise. On October 28th, participants learned about their own strengths, listened to a panel of speakers and chose volunteer opportunities within Medina county.
Mrs. Kelley Jones, a volunteer with United Way of Medina County has helped plan the Summit the past two times it’s been held. She said it was created because a 2012 county-wide health assessment found high numbers of youth ages 12-17 reporting feelings of depression, thoughts of suicide and engaging in drugs and sexual activity.
“To determine why this was happening and how to improve it, the E4 Youth Summit was born,” said Jones. “The four E’s stand for Engage, Educate, Equip and Empower, all important goals for today’s youth. United Way of Medina County held its first E4 Youth Summit in February 2014.”
Students from all Medina county high schools: Black River, Brunswick, Buckeye, Cloverleaf, Highland, Medina and Wadsworth went to the Westfield Insurance Center for the first day of the Summit.
“My expectations of the Youth Summit was, it was going to be like it was when I went 2 years ago as a freshman,” said Corey Sudduth. “But as I went this year, it changed a whole new perspective for me. This was more towards us, and what our strengths were, and how we could use our strengths to change our community.
This year, Mr. Mike Rao, President of a HR Group (an organizational development firm), presented an explanation of an assessment of strengths called the StrengthsQuest. Participants had taken the StrengthsQuest before coming to the Summit and were able to learn what their strengths meant. Examples of possible strengths included positivity, intellection, empathy, futuristic and consistency.
“During Day 1, we were able to learn more about ourselves and others,” said participant Joy Zellers. “We learned about Medina County and I realized how great a community it is. We also learned to work together through fun group activities.”
A panel of community leaders spoke ranging from the Medina County Commissioner, Mr. Adam Friedrick, to the superintendent of the Medina County Career Center, Mr. Steve Chrisman.
“As you look to get involved, determine what those (your) values and principles are,” said Friedrick. “Why do you have them? And how they were formed? Decide what those principles are and hold to them.”
“If you inspire someone, they will go beyond whatever you expected them to do. My life goal is to help others achieve things they didn’t think they were able to do,” said Chrisman.
Participants were able to ask the panelists questions and afterward got to decide where their own strengths lied by choosing a community volunteer opportunity.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to help the organization, ‘First Impressions’, expand and help women feel confident and beautiful for their interviews,” said participant Melissa Gottschalk. “We’re going to be filling goody bags for women, creating flyers, and coming up with ideas to help spread the word about ‘First Impressions.’”
On November 12th, the “Day of Action” will commence, all participants will go to the Medina County Career Center to accomplish the volunteer opportunity they chose.
“I am excited for Day 2 because I picked a fun group and a fun project,” said participant Brenna Mae Holladay. “I chose a hands-on project and I am excited to see what we had planned all come together.”
Katie Salai | Editor-in-Chief | The Medinamite | November 9, 2016