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What Leadership Training in Teens Can Teach Community Leaders

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Boys & Girls Clubs of Sarasota and DeSoto Counties has been a proud partner of The Chamber, The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce (GSCC), since 1991.

GSCC is an award-winning not-for-profit membership organization that unites a dynamic group of 1,200 member companies and organizations in Sarasota and beyond. By tapping its members' collective vision, resources and energy, GSCC works to maintain a healthy environment in which our community can grow and prosper.

As a proud partner, Boys & Girls Clubs can access GSCC resources that connect, promote and support opportunities to grow as a leader in positive youth developmentThis collaboration enables our organization to provide life-changing experiences for the youth we serve, especially through our most recent evolution of our partnership that impacts our STAR (Students Taking Active Roles) Leadership Training Program.

STAR is a nationally-recognized leadership program for high school students in Sarasota that encourages lifelong active citizenship. During this comprehensive 10-week program, teens learn how they can participate in creating the world in which they want to live through leadership skill development, meetings with our community’s elected government and school board officials, service projects and more.

While teens earn credit hours with Sarasota County Schools and volunteer hours for the Bright Futures Program at the end of the program, they are also eligible to give back to a cause they care about by serving as a voting Board member for one of our 90 partner agencies whose Board of Directors welcomes young leaders to make a meaningful difference. Interested teens must commit to a minimum one-year board term and work closely with The Club’s Leadership Program Specialist and Board Adult Advisor.

We were proud to add GSCC to that list of partners in 2020 with the placement of Camila, a STAR grad and 17-year-old senior in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program at Riverview High School who sees herself pursuing a career in international relations. With her passion to develop the critical skills for this aspiration, Camila’s match with GSCC enables her to start exploring this career path and gain a better understanding of the unique relationships between people, organizations and communities.

GSCC CEO/President Heather Kasten stepped up to be Camila’s Board Adult Advisor. Throughout Camila’s board service, Heather has played an instrumental role in helping Camila continue her professional development and personal growth. Alongside the GSCC Board of Directors, Heather has created opportunities for Camila to apply her STAR training and make a difference in a real-world professional setting.

“Our board members attend six meetings per year where Chamber initiatives both within the Chamber and the community as a whole are explored and vetted. We support community projects that are good for the economy and our community. Projects like the Selby Gardens Master Plan, Mote Marine- Oceans for All, the Bay Project and more. We also support businesses by working with our local and state legislators to support the small business community,” Heather says. “Having Camila serve on our Board brings a perspective from the next generation to the Chamber and our business community.”

GSCC’s commitment as a STAR Board Partner Agency ensures that youth like Camila will be active, equal and effective community decision-makers.

“Camila’s willingness to be a part of our Board and to learn about the issues the business community is facing is incredibly proactive of her and demonstrates her willingness to grow, learn and stretch herself,” Heather says. “Camila is a joy to work with and we are honored to have her serve on our Board of Directors.”

With dedicated community partners like GSCC, Boys & Girls Clubs can continue to provide greater opportunities for youth like Camila to find their voices, make meaningful differences in their community and achieve their full potential.

Do you see the value of inviting teen leaders to take a seat at the table and join in important discussions that affect our community’s future? We invite you to witness this impact in action. Call 941-366-3911 to schedule a Club tour today.

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