By Gina Guerreso
As the saying goes, “You are never too young to change the world.” Look around and you will see youth who are standing strong on issues that matter to them. They are getting off the sidelines, asking the tough questions and taking action. These young superheroes are hopeful, excited for the future, and let’s be honest, these kids and teens are the future of event participation and fundraising. Tapping into their endless energy, passion and willingness to do whatever is asked of them is important, if not necessary, for organizations looking to strategize long-term.
Enter the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® Youth Corps. It was with this mindset that the Youth Corps began in Boston in 2005 and has remained a strong program in all markets since 2011. The goal of the Komen 3-Day Youth Corps is to harness the interest of the kids while they are eager and want to be involved in what they see those around them doing. Kids, actually most of us, thrive on routine so when they begin participation from a young age, it becomes part of their lives. Their role on-event might change, but they will be there, no question!
So, what is the 3-Day® Youth Corps? The Youth Corps is a select group of young people (10-16 years old) who participate as crew members on the event. They complete a selection process that includes essays and a phone interview with the Youth Corps leaders. It’s not an easy process and the selection rate is about 76% so a child’s acceptance is not guaranteed, but still the kids put themselves out there for the chance to be part of something that allows them to give back.
These youth are committed to making a difference in the fight against breast cancer be it for personal reasons or to do something bigger than themselves. They fundraise a minimum of $500, though most go well beyond the minimum. In fact, in 2015 the average raised per Youth Corps member was $775! Once on the event, they tent at night in camp with the participants and complete a multitude of important tasks both on the route and in camp. It’s no easy feat, but they do so with smiles and cheers that can be heard throughout the weekend.
Our Youth Corps program is meant to foster a relationship with the youth and our hope is they will continue their participation as walkers or crew when of the required age. We are proud to say our hope has become a reality with 85 kids becoming participants. That’s 85 kids that went on to walk or crew (most multiple times) and fundraise big for the 3-Day!
As an organization, create outlets for children and teens to get involved. Be it MuckFest® MS Lil’ Muckers, volunteering at a local Race for the Cure® or organizing a cheer station at the 3-Day, the seeds are being planted to grow your future participants and top fundraisers!
In the coming weeks, you’ll hear directly from some of the Youth Corps and their leaders about how this program has impacted their lives in a positive way. Until then, I challenge you to ask yourself how you’re involving kids and young adults as you look toward the future of your organization? We look forward to reading your comments below.
Gina is going into her 13th event season with the Susan G. Komen 3-Day, having worked in Arizona, Chicago and now Michigan. She is honored to work with the Crew and Volunteers of the Michigan 3-Day. When not wearing her Event 360 hat, she loves spending time with her family, especially her two little ones, and wishes for summer all year round.