Tag Archives: teens

Valley teens volunteer at Banner medical centers

More than 85 teens from all over the Valley have chosen to spend their summer giving back to the community while exploring potential careers in the medical field. Banner Boswell and Banner Del E. Webb Medical Centers offer eight-week volunteer programs for teens ages 14-18 with an interest in medicine and healthcare.

Seventeen-year-old Corinna Cluckey, who hopes to one day become a surgeon, has volunteered in the program at Banner Boswell for the past five summers. This year, she is working in the surgery department’s family waiting room, interacting with and comforting surgery patients and their families. Interacting with patients and their families is honing this future surgeon’s bedside manner.

Corinna Cluckey volunteers in Banner Boswell’s surgery family waiting room.

Lauren Harrell, 15, works on a program called “Life Stories” at Banner Del E. Webb, where she interviews patients about their lives, then writes up their stories to place in bedside frames. The stories provide nurses and other caregivers with personal perspectives about a patient before he or she was admitted into the unit. Lauren hopes to be a physician assistant and work in a neonatal unit one day.

After interviewing patients, Lauren creates a “life story” narrative, which helps Banner Del E. Webb Medical Center staff better understand their patients.

For more information on volunteer opportunities, visit bannerhealth.com or call the Volunteer Services departments of Banner Del E. Webb at 623-214-4058 or Banner Boswell at 623-876-5382. — Sadie Smeck


Teen Tracks program teaches youth about animal welfare

If your teen is considering a career in animal welfare (or just loves all critters and creatures), the Arizona Animal Welfare League’s “Teen Tracks” program might be the perfect extracurricular activity for the upcoming fall semester.

Photo courtesy of the Animal Welfare League.

The Teen Tracks program provides kids ages 13 to 17 with hands-on experience in the animal welfare field and rigorous training in subjects ranging from animal behavior to husbandry — with all sorts of animals.

The course lasts 13 weeks, and participating teens are required to work shifts at the shelter on six of those weekends, assisting with animal care and observing veterinarians at work. Teens are also called upon to help with educational presentations and field trips.

Through the program, founded in the fall of 2002, teens have the opportunity to “test-drive” working with animals as a potential future career, gain leadership skills, make new friends and serve their community in a meaningful way.

Interested teens must submit an application, essay and two letters of recommendation to the Arizona Animal Welfare League by Sept. 1 to be considered for the Fall 2011 program. A small number of applicants who are selected for further consideration will come in for an interview before the “Teen Trackers” are chosen.

For more information about the program and how to apply, visit aawl.org/teen-tracks.

Photo courtesy of CraftBits.com.

For kids too young or otherwise unable to participate in the Teen Tracks program, we found a no-sew, no-glue craft for animal lovers! Consider making these with your kids to donate to a local animal shelter like the Arizona Humane Society. — Sadie Smeck

Teen library volunteers

Volunteers at the annual Teen Book Sale at Ironwood Branch Library.

By Trish Dolasinski, Ed.D.

As a parent, are you and/or your teenager frustrated by economic trends and the minimal job opportunities for young people trying to learn skills and build a resume? A possible resolution to this dilemma is to pick up and complete a “Teen Volunteer Application,” available at any local Phoenix Public Library.

The Phoenix Library Teen Volunteer Program is free and is available to students ages 12 through 18 who can work for a minimum of two to four hours a week.  More than 300 teens throughout Phoenix participate in the program, but there is always room for more.

As volunteers at the library, teens have a chance to learn valuable, on-the-job skills, while building a resume and acquiring reference contacts. The experience also gives students a chance to meet other teens and have fun at periodic social events and recognition celebrations.

Tasks at each of the 16 branch libraries vary. However, student work includes sorting books, shelving returned books, preparing for library events, organizing materials and reading to younger children. Volunteers also may also assist patrons in locating various books and materials at the library.

To be a Teen Volunteer, students must participate in a two-hour Saturday orientation to learn their roles and responsibilities. They also receive training in customer service expectations, appropriate behavior and dress and attendance requirements. At the culmination of the training, teens and parents both sign an agreement to support and follow the rules as well as the policies and procedures learned and practiced during the training.

“We want our teens to have a successful and productive experience,” says Beth Van Kirk, Ironwood Branch librarian and Youth Program Coordinator. “We see how they take pride in the structure of the program.”

“We also try to connect teens on a variety of levels of involvement and see our library-teen team as a partnership,” says Alice Houlihan, Ironwood Branch manager. “They help us provided services to our communities, but they are also our customers and we value their input.”

The annual Teen Book Sale, facilitated by the Ironwood Branch Teen Volunteers..

Many teen volunteers participate in the Library Teen Council, originally formed to encourage teens’ love of reading. They also provide valuable service as advisors on teen materials and interests. This includes local author visits and arranging teen centers in each of the libraries, as well as activities during Teen Read Month, where students may win valuable prizes for reading featured books and writing reviews.

A poster enthusiastically advertises the Teen Book Sale.

The Teen Council also works with the adult volunteer group, Friends of the Library, in annual fund raising projects. This collaborative effort often includes online book sales, scanning and boxing materials and participating in the annual book sales held at the various branches. Books are donated to the libraries for the sale, with a portion of the funds given to the Teen Council, which makes decisions about which library programs they wish to support as a group.

“This past year, our Teen Council discussed their options and decided they wanted to buy craft materials to support the preschool and elementary summer reading program all on their own,” says Kathi Cork, Mesquite library assistant and adult teen facilitator of the summer program.

The Teen Volunteers  play a major role in the yearly Summer Reading Programs, motivating young children and parents with such slogans as “Smile, Encourage, Cheer—It Only Takes a S.E.C.” This builds an awareness of the importance of customer service and approachability, valuable skills for work and for life.

Teen guides for the summer program complete an additional application process, participating in a one-day training session if they are selected. Their love of reading is especially basic to this role, as they are role models in passing along the love-of-reading message to younger children who participate in the children’s Summer Reading Program. Along with supporting their main mission of cheering younger friends on toward their reading goals, teens are taught ethical behavior, how to work with a variety of clients and how to use their summer volunteer experience as a step toward future job opportunities.

“When a child learns to read for the love of the experience and that visiting the library is fun, both young children and teenagers alike develop lifetime habits of visiting the library,” says Carol Finch, Children and Teen Services Coordinator for the 16 Phoenix Public Libraries.

“We are very proud to have our teens at Mesquite and believe they are an important investment in our community and in our future,” adds Paula Fortier, East Region Manager. “We could not offer the summer opportunities that we have if it was not for these wonderful young people.”

“Volunteering at the library has been such an empowering experience and I really feel I am doing something worthwhile, says Dagny Barclay, 15. “I love interacting with the kids and seeing them reach their goals, while making new friends and having tons of fun.” Dagny has been a teen volunteer at the Mesquite Branch for three years.

“Sometimes teenagers are stereotyped as sullen or dramatic, but after volunteering for the Children’s Phoenix Library Summer program, I met many wonderful teens who enjoy playing games with the younger kids, reading stories to them and helping out around Mesquite (library),” says Carly Schmidt, 15, a four-year veteran volunteer.

Teen library volunteers gain valuable job experience.

“When Carly volunteers at Mesquite Library she is in her element,” says Cindy Schmidt, Carly’s mother. “The experience has given her a chance to spread her love for books while trying out the world of work. The staff and the program were flexible and very supportive.   She is now considering becoming a librarian as a career.”

Many students do return to paying, entry-level jobs with the library system, or go on to study library science or other related fields of interest such as education in their college course work.

From all angles, being a Teen Volunteer at a local public library provides meaningful work, as youth learn valuable interpersonal and job skills, while building strong character and responsible citizenship. For more information contact your local public library or visit phoenixpubliclibrary.org.

Trish Dolasinski, Ed.D. is former school principal and a Scottsdale-based writer, editor and writing group facilitator. Her website is trishdolasinskiwrites.com.

Double the community service

Flori (left) and Ilyena Witenstein (14) of Phoenix.

More than 100 artists will be displaying their wares along Central Avenue between Dunlap and the canal from 5 to 9pm Saturday, April 9 as part of Sunnyslope Art Walk.

Among them will be Ileyna & Flori Witenstein, creators of “Whoopies, Caps with a Cause!”

The twins in 2009.

We first wrote about the twins, who are the daughters of Dan & Julie Witenstein of Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics & Dance, in 2009. The girls, who came home from summer camp the year before with whooping cough, spent their convalescence creating magnets and jewelry with a bottle cap decorating kit. Their hobby turned into a community service project.

They donate a percentage of the proceeds of their sales to The Arizona Partnership for Immunization (TAPI ) and spread the word about their experience with whooping cough and the need for immunizations.

“From the sales of our ‘Whoopies’ just this year, we have donated close to $400 to Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Desert Mission Community Health Center (in Sunnyslope), and to TAPI,” the girls told us.

For the Sunnyslope Art Walk, they’ll be located in the parking lot near Grinder’s Coffee at Central & Dunlap. The event features paintings, photography, mixed media, fiber/wearable, metal work and much more. Parking is available at Sunnyslope Village Center (115 E. Dunlap), Sunnyslope High School (35 E Dunlap) and Cowden Center (9202 N 2nd St.). Learn more at sunnyslopecommunity.org.

Making social media safe for kids

Twittering? Friends, followers, fans? HELP! I don’t understand what my child is doing on the Internet!

Raising Arizona Kids magazine is partnering with Social Media Club Phoenix to provide parents with information to ensure their children are safe online. Panelists will break down the popular social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc) so parents can understand each application’s features, and how they can be used safely.

“Parents shouldn’t simply ban what they don’t know,” said panelist Sheila Unwin. “I hope parents will get involved in social media and realize it can bring them closer to their children.”

In addition to discussing the tools, panelists will share their experiences raising tech-savvy children and the boundaries they have set within their own families.

WHEN & WHERE:  Thursday, April 22, 2010
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
MADCAP Theaters
730 South Mill Ave Tempe

Parking information and a map are available.


Calie Waterhouse (39) is the Internet Community Manager for Skateland in Glendale. She is the mother of three children, ages 10, 13, and 15 respectively. Calie has recently gone through the process of talking to her teens about Internet safety and feels the panel provides an opportunity for an honest and open discussion about social media concerns.

Devon Adams (35) is a high school teacher, as well as a professor for an online community college. His five-year-old daughter has her own twitter and Facebook accounts, as well as has been using her father’s iTouch for education the past year-and-a-half. Additionally, Devon utilizes social media with his students and will offer the perspective on social media safety not only as a parent, but also as an educator.

Sheila Unwin (41) is an education professional at Grand Canyon University. She is the mother of an 18-year-old son and wife of Evo Terra, co-author of Podcasting for Dummies. She and her husband are actively involved in the social media community, planning the weekly ‘tweet-up’ East Valley Friday Nights (#evfn).

NJ Unwin (18) is a student at Grand Canyon University and the son of Sheila and Evo. He has been an active social media user since he was in 7th grade, back in 2003. He believes social media opens up many opportunities for young adults and is an excellent way to promote one’s self to colleges.