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Red Cross Engages Youth with Chapter Club Council

Today I learned the importance of giving back to your community when they’re in need.

On July 16, Chapter Club Council members volunteered at a Red Cross “mock shelter” hosted at Jeffersontown Community Center. The mock shelter gave seniors, people with functional or access needs, and the rest of the community a chance to get a feel for how Red Cross shelters operate following a disaster and allows them to ask questions.

“Today I learned the importance of giving back to your community when they’re in need,” said Club Council member Brittany Johnson. “It was an amazing experience for me, and I would definitely volunteer at a Red Cross shelter during a disaster.”

During the mock shelter, youth helped set up cots, gave tours to visitors, and helped with the registration process. The youth also provided snacks and disaster movies for entertainment. The movies were shown to simulate news channels often played in shelters during actual disasters.

“The youth were so eager to help, so enthusiastic, so hard-working, and reliable,” said Lydia Hignite, Red Cross Community Resiliency Specialist and director of the event. “It was a pleasure working with them. I even had a client call the office to tell me how impressed she was with the youth volunteers.”

A month before the mock shelter, Red Cross delivered a “Maintaining Your Independence” presentation to seniors and people with functional or access needs in the Jeffersontown Community. Following the presentation, a mock shelter was scheduled to give those who attended the presentation an opportunity to go through the registration process and get more comfortable with the shelter setting.

Club Council member Celeste Palomino said she really enjoyed volunteering at the shelter. She felt that it was a wonderful learning experience and gave a great idea of what a shelter would look like during a disaster.

The Chapter Club Council has remained active throughout the summer months volunteering and learning more about the Red Cross mission. In June, Youth Coordinator Kristen Lawrence hosted a training and recognition day for the Club Council at the Muhammad Ali Center. The agenda for the day included a tour, a class with Muhammad Ali Center lesson facilitator Tytianna Smith, an award ceremony and training on International Humanitarian Law (IHL).

The youth went through all of the museum exhibits, including “Global Shoes” which allowed the youth to literally put themselves in the shoes of someone from another country. While visiting the Core Principle Pavilions, the youth learned Ali’s six core principles: confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spiritually. Club Council member Jada Stewart said she realized that she uses the six principles in her everyday life because she believes in herself, has courage in that belief, is devoted to helping others, volunteers without expecting anything in return, respects herself and others and has a sense of inner peace.

During the lesson, Smith led a discussion on the struggles Muhammad Ali went through including racism. Youth shared stories about times they encountered racism in their neighborhoods, in class and other areas of everyday life. Stewart said she felt the conversation was very deep and enjoyed it.

Loren Schanding, Red Cross Division Disaster State Relations Director, led a course for the youth to learn about International Humanitarian Law, which regulates the conduct of armed conflict protecting civilians, prisoners of war and wounded or sick soldiers. The Geneva Conventions are adopted by nearly every nation, and it is the duty of the Red Cross to ensure that the humanitarian principles are widely understood and respected by youth and adults. Part of the training involved a video about child soldiers and the general topic of global warfare and peace.

“After watching the video, I was like wow,” said Stewart. “These kids are really traumatized. All they know is fight and kill, so after watching the video I felt really grateful for living in the United States where child soldiers are not allowed.”

Club Council members have volunteered more than 600 hours this past year. They’ve planned activities and demonstrated leadership among their peers. For information about becoming a Club Council member or other volunteer opportunities contact Kristen Lawrence at (502)-561-3608 or