November is National Youth Involvement Month (NYIM), a time to celebrate the great work the thousands of American Red Cross youth and young adult volunteers do to support our mission.
As many as 25% of American Red Cross volunteers are youth or young adults, age 24 and younger.
The Red Cross has a proud history of commitment to youth and their value to the organization. That commitment centers around programs to involve young people starting in elementary school through high school, college and beyond.
Young Red Cross volunteers are as diverse as the U.S. population. They are athletes organizing blood drives on college campuses, nursing students training to serve in community disaster shelters, high school students raising funds to vaccinate kids across the globe against measles.
As a member of their school’s Red Cross Club, students can support local, national or even international issues. Besides Red Cross Clubs, high school students can participate in the Field Ambassador program, serving as liaisons between their local Red Cross region and the National Youth Council. The Council, yet another opportunity for young people, is made up of youth members who advocate for young volunteers to get involved both at the national and local levels.
Many students who go on to higher education continue to support the Red Cross by joining Red Cross Clubs on their college campus. And there are Red Cross Young Professionals groups across the country composed of dedicated 25-to-35-year-old volunteers from all industries and backgrounds who promote and support the Red Cross.
Young people represent both the future of the Red Cross as well as the present. Youth engaged in Red Cross services and programs are experiencing first-hand the humanitarian values the Red Cross exemplifies. By such involvement they will become the organization’s future leaders, service volunteers, blood donors and community supporters.
During November, we honor our young professionals, college students and high school, middle school and elementary school students who make a difference every day. You can find out more at redcross.org/red-cross-youth.
Throughout the year, young volunteers support the Red Cross in different ways. Here are a few of their stories:
LOS ANGELES REGION Every year, Red Cross volunteers work behind the scenes to support the Rose Parade which kicks off the Rose Bowl, one of the most anticipated games in college football.
This year, 54 high school and college Red Crossers participated in the event as part of the Los Angeles Region’s First Aid Support. After passing Basic Life Support, Oxygen Administration, First Aid and Bloodborne Pathogen courses, they worked a total of 432 hours as part of the Red Cross first aid presence at the parade.
EASTERN NORTH CAROLINA REGION Srijan Oduru is a senior at Green Hope High School and Red Cross Youth Field Ambassador for the Eastern North Carolina Region. There were many active clubs in his region, but no available platform where various clubs could actively collaborate with one another.
Srijan founded a Youth Leadership Conference Series to streamline national and regional outreach throughout his region. In a recent YLC series, he highlighted the importance of volunteer recognition and celebration, and plans on showcasing upcoming topics on how to increase engagement and transitions between high school and college roles.
CENTRAL FLORIDA REGION Himashi Liyanarachchi founded the Red Cross Club at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida. She is also a member of the Red Cross’ National Youth Council. After getting involved in her local chapter’s Sound the Alarm program and fundraising initiatives, Himashi found herself interested in International Humanitarian Law (IHL). She ran her club’s first IHL Youth Action Campaign and reached out virtually to a large audience to discuss autonomous weapons. Despite it being her Club’s first IHL Youth Action Campaign, the team gained new insights about International Humanitarian Law and learned the importance of advocacy through their experience.
As a Political Discourse Speaker for the IHL Youth Action Campaign Summit, Himashi was recently able to speak to selected members of Congress about regulations on autonomous weapons.
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA REGION Ryanne Li is president of the Newbury Park High School Red Cross Club. This past year she and her club organized Ride for the Red, hands-on CPR demonstrations, care packages for those affected by fires, and holiday cards for active military members, veterans and their families.
As president, her role was to encourage the team and organize the activities throughout the year. Ryanne collaborated with many responsible and passionate leaders who are inspired by the Red Cross' mission and strive to be a part of it within their own community.
NEW JERSEY REGION Arthi Venkatakrishnam first became interested in the Red Cross when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey in 2012 and she witnessed volunteers helping. At age 13, she became a volunteer and joined the Princeton Youth Council. In 2019 she got involved with the Red Cross' International Humanitarian Law (IHL), speaking with former refugees and current high school students at Aiken High School in Ohio. She produced a podcast that received recognition from both the Red Cross and National Public Radio (NPR).
A recent high school graduate, Arthi is a Field Ambassador Lead, National Youth Council Social Media Intern, IHL Youth Action Campaign Member for Red Cross’ National Headquarters, as well as a Regional Intake Lead and Volunteer Intake Processing Center President for the New Jersey Youth Council.
NORTHERN CALIFORNIA COASTAL REGION Edmund Tang was just 16 years old when he became heavily involved with the Red Cross Youth Corps. Settling in the Northern California Coastal Region (NCCR), Tang found out there were no formal youth programs there, so he met with his Red Cross chapter and region team and AmeriCorps representatives to start official youth programs.
Today, Edmund is a busy medical student, but finds the time to continue to volunteer in both NCCR and the Los Angeles Region. He is a Disaster Action Team Administrator and Information & Planning Coordinator, as well as assistant station leader for the First Aid Stations team in the LA Region and deploys nationally in Disaster Health Services as an Emergency Medical Technician and Shelter Associate.