Feel Good Friday: Toledo students on TOP
TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Though school is still out for a few more weeks, that doesn’t mean students are slacking off.
In fact, there’s a group of Toledo teens that is using this time out of class to do good in the community.
They are members of the YWCA of Northwest Ohio’s Teen Outreach Program, otherwise known as TOP.
The program has been around for more than 30 years and provides TPS high school students with opportunities to take part in various activities, and also to contribute to the community.
On one recent summer afternoon, a group of teens met at the Mott branch library to fill lunch sacks which they then took downtown, stopping at Cherry Street Mission.
Recent Scott High School graduate, Damian Gilbert, joined TOP his sophomore year.
“Honestly, a lot of my friends were involved, but the thing that made me stay was being able to do community service,” he recalled. “There are a lot of kids who would rather do things that are fun to them, but there is a lot of enjoyment that comes from doing community service.”
Youth Advocate Katelyn Berger works with the teens and has witnessed first-hand the impressions these community projects make on students.
“They are definitely impacted deeply and reflective. They think about how their lives have been and maybe the better opportunities that they have had. And, in turn, they come home and they’re more compassionate,” she explained.
Shelly Ulrich is the YWCA Vice President of Strategy and Innovations. She joined the teens on the most recent outing and said each project is selected very intentionally.
“They chose this opportunity through their own eyes, driving through town, through seeing individuals holding signs up, through just having family members who may be homeless,” she recalled.
Ulrich said the program offers students an array of life lessons.
“Gardening, cleaning up communities, dealing with animals, or dealing with the elderly .... when they have an opportunity to identify needs in the community and tap into their interests, they own it and it becomes theirs,” Ulrich said.
To learn more about TOP, click here.
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