Alexis has been part of the Community Corrections Association’s Leadership Resilience Program which helps young high school students achieve their potential by enhancing the youths’ internal strengths and resiliency while preventing involvement in substance abuse and violence. Such enhancements work directly to help United Way achieve our goals of more youth being able to respond to and cope with positive and adverse situations.
My name is Alexis Riley I’m 17 and a senior at Washington High School. I‘ve been a member of the youth leadership program for four years now. I was nominated my freshman year to be a part of the sub group it’s called LRP, which stands for the Leadership and Resiliency program. We focus on three main things, those being resiliency groups, community service and adventure activities. In middle school I was not known to be the best student. I didn’t make very great decisions and I lacked a lot of responsibility. Freshman year in high school I was nominated shortly after my first trimester, and it really helped me focus on a lot more positive things and focus more on my school work and getting a lot of things that should be focused on, done. I have seen first hand how the group has helped a lot of other students like fellow group members and one in particular she wasn’t really, she’s very shy and didn’t really know how to speak up for herself and stand up for herself around others. She did confide in me and mention to me one time how students weren’t very nice to her and even mentioned things how like during lunch they’d throw stuff at her and throw food at her and different things like that. One of my friends and I actually we all had early bird together so we all normally eat breakfast in the morning and we noticed every morning she was eating by herself, so we stepped up and ate breakfast with her and just kind of talked to her and asked her how her day was going and just tried to make her feel more comfortable. And over the years I have seen she has really grown and is really good with other students like anything from just talking to someone else in the hallway to even interacting in in-class discussions. And I have noticed she is a lot more happier now and she just seems like everything is lot more better than the first time we met.
In LRP we have weekly meetings; we meet every Tuesday during lunch at school, just in whichever teacher lets us use their classroom or whoever has an available classroom at the time. We talk about anything from how our day is going to what service project we’re working on at that time. We do service projects, we fundraise, we do adventure activities, just anything under those categories. The students, we’re the ones who do all of the planning. We do everything from making flyers to calling businesses and finding out critical information about the project that is coming up and that does help us build our leadership skills and really puts a lot of responsibility on us that I think is very needed. We also do adventure activities and the thing is you have to participate in the service project to be able to be a part of the adventure activity. My favorite service activity was when we donated a lot of non-perishable food items and hygiene products to the Madge Phillips Center. The way we did it is we hosted and organized a movie day at a community center, it’s called Groundswell. I’m not sure if you guys are familiar with that. We invited all of the younger youth leadership people like the kids who are like in middle school and we used the items like the food and the hygiene products as the admission to get in. So you had to bring something to be able to come in. And then everything we collected from that we donated to the center. And it was just a really good experience. We got to go on a tour and just see how everything works, and we even got to look in the pantry and see all different things from like diapers to cookies to just everything, and it was just full of stuff you wouldn’t even think would be in there. We also last year did a, we volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House. We cooked them a meal. We made like walking tacos; but it was just really fun being able to go there and like meet with all the families and eat dinner with them and just cook for them. It was just really cool just seeing how all that works. My favorite adventure activity was over this last summer. We went paint balling, which was a really crazy experience and it hurts really bad, but it was really fun. And there’s just so many things that you or me, you know, I would not experience without this organization, this group. And it’s really cool knowing that, you know, just by being a part of something like this that there’s just so many things we’re able to do. And like me personally, I just love like helping people out like just seeing something that I did make someone else happy it just makes my whole entire day. There’s so many other students in the group as well, especially me being a senior I’m just seeing so many people just mature and just grow over the years and the group I do believe had a lot to do with that. And it really just helps us step up and take responsibility for things that we’re doing. Yep. And I’m really grateful for the leadership program especially LRP and the staff is just really amazing, they really do care about us. Them showing how much they’re concerned about what’s going on in our lives really means a lot. I have definitely enjoyed being a part of such an amazing thing. And I’m really sad to say this is my last year, but I wouldn’t give it up for anything in the world and I do recommend a lot of other students to take advantage of the opportunity because it’s an experience you’ll never forget.