Tampa Youth Leadership Council Most Successful
Youth Spring Into Action (Y.S.I.A.), is just one of several community engagement initiatives facilitated by Devereux Kids in the neighborhood of Sulphur Springs in Tampa, Florida. Since September 2006, Devereux Kids has been providing community education and youth leadership development programs in Sulphur Springs. Y.S.I.A. is comprised of neighborhood youth between the ages of 13-19. Supported and advised by Keith Babb, Devereux Kids community facilitator, Y.S.I.A. is youth-led, serving as a voice for the youth in the community. This initiative provides youth opportunities for leadership development, positive out-of-school activities, and community service projects. The goal is to improve their life opportunities, motivate them to plan for a better future, and build their leadership skills to become contributing members of their community.
The community partners’ support and involvement is vital to the growth and success of Y.S.I.A.’s future. The Sulphur Springs Neighborhood Association has provided the youth opportunities to conduct community service projects and venues for their events, utilizing Mann-Wagnon Park, the site for the Sulphur Springs Museum. The youth council also serves as an initiative to increase participation of other teens in the neighborhood sponsoring activities and programs at North Tampa Community Center, with the support of the City of Tampa Parks & Recreation Department, Tampa Bay Boys & Girls Club, Chamberlain High School and other community stakeholders interested in improving the lives of our youth.
Y.S.I.A., initially funded through support from the Rays Baseball Foundation All Star grant, has been in existence for less than a year, but has already made a tremendous impact in the community. An event that had a positive impact for both the youth and their parents was our Parent Appreciation Breakfast in which the teen members prepared and served breakfast to over 20 parents, grandparents, relatives, and caregivers. They wanted to express their gratitude to the adults in their lives for supporting their development and growth. During the breakfast, the University of South Florida’s Parental Information & Resource Center facilitated a workshop on improving communication and ways to become more involved in their child’s educational success.
In April 2011, nine Y.S.I.A. members traveled to Tallahassee to attend Children’s Week. They toured the state Capitol, met with State Representative Betty Reed, and attended the Youth Advocacy Workshop to learn how they can become effective advocates and make a difference in their community. Considering the many accomplishments the youth have made in such a short period; the future outlook is great!