By Nicole Hennessy
Volunteering can be an enriching experience for any student. Some deliver meals to the elderly; some work with the less fortunate.
But Youth Challenge gives them the opportunity to bond with other students their own age – students who live with disabilities.
Pairing children with physical disabilities with youth volunteers in areas like adaptive sports and the arts for 37 years, the Westlake-based nonprofit is looking forward to another successful season of programming as the winter/spring season reaches its end.
The organization will host its annual Gallery Gala on April 13.
Kathy Rigdon, who handles media outreach for Youth Challenge, said the organization started an “arts exploration program” in January, which takes place on Wednesdays after school through mid-March. Children work on art projects in the workshop. Those artworks will be auctioned off at the gala, and some of the young artists will be present.
At YC there are always volunteer opportunities, which are popular during the summer break. Though the summer schedule hasn’t come out yet, Rigdon can recall one course that will be offered: hip-hop. Rigdon added they also go swimming and bowling, and play soccer. “We find that in addition to the participants who get so much out of it, the volunteers sometimes get as much or more.”
She estimates YC has close to 400 teenage volunteers at any given time. Summer is a lot of fun, as most of the activities aim to get everyone playing outside.
Those who attend the gala, which will take place at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, 127 Public Square, “will enjoy an elegant evening with cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, dinner, as well as silent and live auctions while supporting Youth Challenge,” YC promises. Auction items in addition to the children’s art will include items like destination packages and tickets to various sporting events.
Hilton Head Island is a destination up for grabs – a seven-night stay in a three-bedroom townhouse. The winner also gets $250 for travel expenses. Tickets are 2 for $50 or 5 for $100 and can be purchased at the gala or ahead of time. Tickets to the gala cost $125 per person, of which $50 is tax-deductible – and of course the money goes to a good cause.
For those interested in summer opportunities, new programs are added to YC’s schedule all the time, even one-day activities, such as a St. Patrick’s Day parade or March Madness basketball.
Those interested in volunteering or purchasing raffle tickets should call 440-892-1001.
To become a Youth Challenge volunteer one must
- be 12 years old or older
- have gone through a training program, which is held prior to each program season
- attend a program to see what volunteers do
- complete the required forms prior to participation