Contributed by: Sara Beth Lyon, Cowboy Ethics Outreach Coordinator
Bright and early the morning of July 20th, Sierra White, 2016-2017 Youth of the Year, and her chaperone Cowboy Ethics Outreach Coordinator, Sara Beth Lyon, left Casper for an adventure down south in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon arrival, staff from Boys & Girls Clubs of America greeted them with enthusiasm and excitement for the third annual Advanced Leadership Institute which brings together Youths of the Year from all 50 states and military bases across the world!
Once settled into the dorms at Georgia State University, the first activity was slated for a welcoming ceremony where many exciting surprises awaited. From former and current National Youths of the Year, to President and CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of America Jim Clark welcoming everyone, and to Brandon from Disney bringing very special guest Mickey Mouse with Mickey ears for all the youth! Afterward, there were photo opportunities and a carnival of fun games to win a variety of prizes. Later that evening, Sierra officially became a part of Boys & Girls Club Alumni and received training on how she can continue to be involved with the Club.
On Friday, corporate sponsors Toyota and Disney were on site to give the Youths of the Year insight into leadership and the importance of giving back to your community. Sierra helped to box up donations for the local Atlanta Food Bank during her session with Toyota, and then loaded all the boxes into a truck for delivery. In the Disney session, producers from the Marvel movies talked about the importance of leadership and your own brand. They even brought Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer props from the movies for the youth to pose for pictures. Disney then further surprised the youth with a private showing of their newest action film, Spider-Man: Homecoming!
The last full day in Atlanta gave Sierra more leadership training, as well as media training from Boys & Girls Clubs of America. The youth were taught about the impact and reach of proper and appropriate social media usage to help further their own personal brand. The closing session brought in Boys & Girls Club Alumni and supermodel Damaris Lewis who spoke to the teens about her Club experience and the importance of being authentic. She also presented each Youth with their service awards. At the end, Sierra was able to have an inspiring conversation with Damaris and even sang a song for her!
Later that evening, everyone headed to Six Flags! It was Sierra’s first time at a full fledged amusement park and she enjoyed every minute of it. Sunday was filled with final gathering contact information, SnapChat connections, and final goodbyes as everyone headed back home. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience that both Sierra and Sara Beth with will treasure and remember.