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By Lisa Carolin

Students in the Chelsea School District have been learning that they can make a difference at any age, from the bucket fillers at North Creek Elementary School to the Youth Empowerment Solutions (YES) Program participants at Beach Middle School.

The YES Program, which was implemented by the SRSLY Coalition,  just started and offers leadership and teamwork training that enables students to lead projects.

“The goal of the program is to equip students to effectively and positively contribute to the health of their community,” said Jesse Kauffman, coalition director for the SRSLY Coalition. “By the end of the program, students will have a plan and budget to implement their community improvement projects and many will successfully implement them.”

The YES Program includes four 2.5 hour in-services over a period of two months during which students are taught about community service, leadership, teamwork, project planning, and the relationship between their environment and their health.

“They conduct a community assessment, tour a community asset, and attend a leadership panel where they meet and interview Chelsea leaders about improving their community,” said Kauffman. “They create community improvement projects, following the process through brainstorming, planning, budgeting, and implementation. It is a substantial amount of content and activity to cover in just four sessions, but it is valuable knowledge and experience students will be able to utilize in their future pursuits.”

All students are welcome, and teachers are also asked to recommend students whom they think would be interested in those topics.

“We’re not just interested in high achieving students,” said Kauffman. “We also welcome students who may not have found their niche just yet.”

“The YES program provides a leadership opportunity for our students to become invested in the local school community,” said Beach Principal Nick Angel. “This has become ingrained in the Chelsea schools and we are fortunate to have this as an opportunity for kids.”

Kauffman says that the goal is for the students’ projects to be implemented in the spring.

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