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Splish Splash Clinic

Tyler Harmon, ZCHS junior and member of the Zionsville Swim Club, received a grant from National Child Awareness Month Youth Service Program in 2015.

NCAM YSA grants offer kids an opportunity to receive $1000 to combat critical issues facing youth and help make a lasting, positive impact in their community. Harmon teamed up with Little Star Center, Lauryn Parrish from Fisher Swim Club and Zionsville Aquatic Center and chose to host three swimming clinics for autistic kids on April 30th, May 14th and May 28th of 2016.

Over ten Zionsville Swim Club athletes volunteered to give a one on one lesson to the 10 autistic kids and focused the swimming lesson on water safety. In addition, they played water games, and had Chick-fil-a & cupcakes for lunch. The grant was used to pay for each autistic kid’ swim gear from Circle City Swimwear prior to the event.

Maria Hodge, mother of one kid in the program, wrote to Lauryn and Tyler:” I wanted to take a minute and thank you for the outstanding job that you, Tyler and all of the high school swimmers involved in the Splish Splash have done. We were very excited to meet all of you and my son had a great time. I really enjoyed watching the kids bond with their high schoolers. Everyone did such a fantastic job! Having the swim gear from Circle City Swim was an added and unexpected bonus that we really appreciate! To top it all off, being treated to the Chick-Fil-A dinner was the icing on the cake! Thank you for all that you are doing for these special little swimmers! This experience is awesome and we sincerely appreciate it!”

Nicole Johnson, another parent, wrote a few weeks after the Clinic that “The Splish Splash Clinic had a great impact on my son and it definitely built his confidence.  This past Saturday I took him swimming to a public pool and he was very active and daring.  Before he was timid and hung onto to me, but his time he was a different kid.  I just want to say thank you very much because I truly believe it helped my child.”

The Indiana High School Athletic Association posted the event pictures at the Champions Together (Facebook) and Champs Together (Twitter).

Volunteering with Givology

Summer is a great time to give back. That's why I started volunteering with Givology! Givology is a nonprofit that promotes education in the developing world by funding grassroots projects and student scholarships. Their motto is Give to Learn, Learn to Give. 
When I joined the team, I learned about projects like The Last Girl that helped children born to prostituted mothers go to school. I read updates from students like Neema Sesay, who talked her father out of marrying her after primary school. She is now in high school hoping to become a teacher. When students get an education, they succeed. I wanted to bring awareness to the importance of making education accessible to everyone, so I started blogging about various obstacles to education, like gender inequality, poverty, and low school quality.
When I write, my hope is that I can convey the world students in the developing world live in, and one of the best ways to do that is to tell stories. From a young age, I've been fascinated with storytelling. I grew up on the narratives of Romanians in my community who told me about their experiences in communist Romania. They told me about hiding paintings because art was a crime, struggling to get an education when school was hours away, and facing great danger to escape the borders, hoping to find opportunities. When people tell their stories, they give the world a glimpse into their world, and that's powerful.

My passion for stories is what drew me to Dreams That Could Be, an initiative to gather the stories of students all around the world. When I was introduced to Allison Zaucha, the photographer behind the project, I knew I wanted to help, so I volunteered to help with any writing I could do. I wrote about the project's partners to keep people updated and I look forward to helping more in the future! It was another way I could do what I love, write, while helping others, and that's what volunteering is all about. When we all volunteer and do what we're good at, we can change the world.

The Power of $100

Frosted glass, cold feet, and pulsing hands graced across the ice rink in an effort to sponsor a family on and provide gifts for those who are underprivileged. VolunTEEN Nation Ambassador Sharlena Luyen coordinated this family event to create a type of cheer worth spreading. She wanted to show everyone what this holiday season was all about -- giving happiness. With this in mind, Sharlena had over 100 supporters come out to the rink and skate, along with special guest Miss Teen Regional US Shayauna Mellin to support the cause. At the end of the night, Sharlena raised enough money to sponsor nearly three families on CommuniGift, purchasing essentials from shoes and educational toys to coats and pants.

After the event, she realized the power of a single hundred dollar bill. With this, she challenges everyone to take part in an upcoming project, "Feed 100 people for 100 dollars."

The Servie Challenge

The popularity of the selfie is phenominal.  Selfies are the most well recognized trend among social media users, but they paint an incomplete picture of their subjects.

The Servie Challenge launched by VolunTEEN Nation Ambassador Kate Parchman is designed to allow social media users to show a more complete picture of themselves.  Servies are images of individuals/groups engaging in acts of service to others and posted on social media sites with the #serviechallenge.

Servies do the following:

1. Serives show a more complete picture of an individual, going beyond physical appearance to highlight interests, talents, character and dedication.

2. Servies share ideas for service opportunities. Many willing individuals wish to serve but do not know what groups or organizations are in need of assistance.  Also, first time volunteers may wish to share the experience with a friend, and servies can help volunteers to connect and coordinate efforts, leading to an increase in volunteer support for the organization and a more fulfilling experience for the volunteers.

3. Servies raise awareness, highlighting issues, needs and solutions to problems in our local communities and around the world.

4. Servies inspire others and impact communities:  Servies show needs being met, lives being improved and communities changing for the better.

5. The Servie Challenge is a great way to show, share and increase your impact on the world.   What you need to do for the Servie Challenge is post servies  to your profiles and then challenge other social media users to do the same.  Servies can change the world, but you have to take the first step. 

Post your servies with #serviechallenge.

Teens Taking Action

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” –Margaret Mead. This thought really struck home for two sophomores who had a passion for volunteering in their community. In the spring of 2013, Morgan and Rachael started a service club called Teens Taking Action at their high school in Minnetonka, Minnesota. The club is focused on counteracting poverty in the Twin Cities through volunteer work at local organizations. 

They wanted to give students an opportunity to volunteer more regularly in order to spread volunteerism in their community. Members of the service club choose to volunteer at organizations and causes they are passionate about. The service club as four main issues they take action against: hunger, homelessness, lack of necessities and aiding in healthy community relations, in order to counteract poverty. 

The club meets every month during the school year and strives to complete at least two volunteering projects each month. What began as a small group of 15 friends has grown to more than 50 members. The club even completes volunteer projects during the summer. Some examples of organizations they have volunteered with include Second Harvest Heartland, HandsOn Twin Cities, The Sandwich Project, ICA Food Shelf, Salvation Army, and Caring for Cambodia, Cheerful Givers, The Humane Society, Operation Gratitude and Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly. 

However, the club’s biggest accomplishment was receiving a grant from the organization Katie’s Krops to start their very own vegetable garden, where all the vegetables harvested would be donated to their local ICA food shelf. Over 170 applicants applied for Katie’s Krops 2014 Grant Cycle and Teens Taking Action was one of the 31 grantees to receive funding. Teens Taking Action also received donations of seeds and plants from a local greenhouse and their city also donated a 20 X 20 plot for them to grow on. They began planting in mid May and the garden has been flourishing since. Each week this summer the garden switches hands from various members. Two to three members will take care of the garden for a week. Responsibilities for managing the garden include weeding, watering, and if there is produce, delivering it to ICA Food Shelf. 

Morgan and Rachael, the founders of Teens Taking Action, are so thankful for the wonderful support from their members, as well as the support from their club advisor, community, and Katie’s Krops. 

Interested in learning more about Teens Taking Action’s service projects follow them on Twitter @TTA_MHS.