With a focus on leadership and service, Tampa's Mayor's Youth Corps (MYC) teaches high school students across the city about life skills and civic responsibility. Former Mayor Pam Iorio began the program specifically with the idea of community service in mind. However, MYC members learn valuable lessons through these service opportunities.
On April 18, the students of MYC were a part of the citywide Paint Your Heart Out project, in which volunteers painted the homes of elderly citizens who cannot do so themselves.
Youth Corps Coordinator Rebecca Heimstead sees the project as a unique learning experience for the students. "I think service is important, and it's one of the foundation principles of the Mayor's Youth Corps. Students like doing the project. Often, it's the first time they've done something from start to finish where they've been able to actually see the results."
Tampa Catholic junior Abigail Huetteman is currently a part of the Mayor's Youth Leadership Council, a program for MYC graduates. "It's just a day of fun and volunteering and helping someone out who maybe isn't able to paint their house themselves," said Huetteman.
MYC also teaches students basic skills to use throughout their lives, such as writing checks, preparing resumés and managing time. "I realized that while I had bright, articulate, young people, they didn't have some of what we call 'soft skills' that would help prepare them for both college and, eventually, the workplace," said Heimstead. "I think that almost everything we do is immediately applicable to a young person's life."
Huetteman has found her experience in MYC invaluable. "Things you learn are things that no one bothers to teach people," said Huetteman. "The number of times that I've applied things that I learned in Mayor's Youth Corps is countless."