YLA benefits greatly from UF contribution

Published 11:28 am Saturday, November 13, 2010

Members of the Youth Leadership Class of 2009 work on a team building exercise during the opening retreat.|File Photo

One Atmore program has gained the attention of groups from across Alabama. Youth Leadership Atmore, now in it’s 16th year, began with an idea from the first Leadership Atmore Class sponsored by the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce.

Nick Smith, committee chairman for YLA, said the group has seen 15 graduations and has made a mark on the lives of many teens and impression on leaders throughout the state.

“We opened the program to high school juniors and have had many, many students complete the program,” Smith said. “The program is designed to be beneficial to the kids. We pack everything into the program that we can to help build a foundation they can build on throughout their lives. When we’ve held sessions at the State House and universities and colleges across the state, leaders at those places have been impressed with the program we are offering the youth of our community. They are excited to see a program like this in place.”

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Smith said a maximum of 23 students benefit from YLA programs, lessons and activities each year.

“We cover a wide range of topics that will help them understand how things work in their communities and across the state,” Smith said. “Some of the students we’ve had in the program had never been out of Escambia County and never had any thought about how State government works. This program has broadened their views and exposed them to many educational opportunities.”

Among the topics covered through the YLA program each year are law enforcement, the history of Atmore, education, government, business/industries and resume/interview/etiquette lessons.

The group holds a retreat at the beginning of the session year each fall, Smith said. Monthly sessions are held to cover the areas of interest for the group with a graduation ceremony held in the spring.

“We put just as much as we can into the programs and presentations during the sessions,” Smith said. “We want the kids to get as much out of being a part of Youth Leadership as they possibly can.”

The experiences the students get from the program are only part of the overall Youth Leadership Atmore goals.

“We want to expose these students to as many different aspects of living in this community and state as possible,” Smith said. “Preparing them for a successful future is the main purpose of the group. We want each of the graduates of Youth Leadership Atmore to be a leader in their future careers.”

The program has been funded through the 16-year history by a variety of organizations, businesses and private contributors, Smith said.

“We did some fundraising early on with the program,” Smith said. “Over the years we have had some generous contributors who have made the continuation of Youth Leadership possible.”

Along with contributions from public groups, Youth Leadership Atmore has also benefited from United Fund donations.

“We have been fortunate to be on the list of recipients of funding from United Fund,” Smith said. “Their contribution to Youth Leadership makes it possible for us to continue what we’re doing. The contribution from United Fund would certainly cover an entire session for our youth during the year.”

Smith said donations for the group are accepted throughout the year from any source and helps to keep the program alive for classes of students to come.

“We are happy to receive any kind of financial or in-kind contribution for the program,” Smith said. “Those contributions allow us to offer this program to the youth of our community year after year.”

To make a contribution to United Fund, contact any United Fund board member or ask your employer.

To make a contribution directly to Youth Leadership Atmore, contact the Atmore Area Chamber of Commerce at 368-3305.