At a recent Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program alumni gathering, 21 young adults gathered to reminisce, laugh, share, and dine together. Over the course of an evening, they shared their journeys through college and even graduate school, their stories of persistence in spite of obstacles, their jobs and job searches, and their service to our country through the military. Throughout the conversations, each teen expressed goals that affirmed their commitment to and passion for service to others.
Each story of service was unique. One alum is preparing to volunteer for a service trip to New Orleans, where she will provide relief after Hurricane Karina. She had already provided support after Hurricane Sandy, and desires to continue to give back to hurricane-affected communities. Another alum is applying for Teach for America after college graduation, while a third is a Golden Apple Scholar in Illinois, and is dedicated to becoming a middle school math teacher for struggling schools. A fourth alum was selected to participate in a national leadership program in Washington DC, which has linked him to local and state policy efforts in Missouri. A fifth passionately continues to advance her career and studies in work with children and youth, as well as her poetry as a means of expression and sharing. And the list goes on and on.
In planning for their future, these alumni are wonderful examples of how, with proper supports, all young people can achieve success. Since 2002, Saint Louis
area community leaders, corporations, foundations, and the local United Way have invested in Wyman’s Teen Leadership Program teens. By working together to provide cross-functional supports, the providers in our community made intentional investments in the futures of these young people.
Because of these investments, each young person had supportive and caring adult relationships throughout his or her teen years, opportunities to learn how to successfully lead others, a sense of belonging with a positive peer group, a focus on their future and their abilities, challenging educational experiences, and the chance to give back in service to their community. And in return, they showed us what can happen. While their successes are each their own, they remind us that when communities make intentional, consistent investments in the growth and development of children and teens, good things happen. That is a return on investment we at Wyman are committed to pursuing, nationwide.