Learning about others isn't always an easy task, especially as a student from a different school. For Red Canyon High School sophomore Michael El-Bitar, having the chance to shadow a student from Eagle Valley High School provided him with that opportunity.
"It was a really fun project," he said.
Through Eagle River Youth Coalition's Youth Leaders Council, El-Bitar not only shadowed a fellow member but was himself followed as well. Each student was left to make arrangements, get permission, and follow through with all other logistics.
"It put it on our shoulders completely so we learned a lot from it," El-Bitar said. "I hope that the people who visited a different school got a good view of the other school and put aside some of the generalizations about the different schools."
Having a diverse group is one of the aspects of the program that is a draw for El-Bitar.
"We have many different view points and work well together," he said. "We can actually carry out our projects and not just talk about doing them."
El-Bitar is active both in his school and outside, participating in football, wrestling, fencing, Boy Scouts, and Young Life. As a scout, he has earned the highest rank, Eagle Scout, after completing a project on the Minturn Teams Course for SOS Outreach. He also enjoys hiking, skiing, skateboarding and camping.
By volunteering for the rummage sale every year, completing projects through SOS Outreach, Youth Leaders Council, and scouts, El-Bitar hopes to show people that youth can make a difference.
"I hope that people get that message," he said.
For El-Bitar, community service is important for a number of reasons but most importantly that it helps others.
"It helps people who need help and can't get it for one reason or another," he said. "It gets stuff done that might not get done if people didn't volunteer. It also keeps our community clean, educated, and teaches people new skills."
El-Bitar encourages other youth to get involved in the community by joining a youth group and participating in community service projects that address a topic they are concerned about.
"Share your ideas," he said. "Push to do projects that change what you want to change and make a difference."
Beth Pantzer is program coordinator for the Eagle River Youth Coalition. The Youth Leaders Council is a program of the Eagle River Youth Coalition, a local nonprofit organization that offers collaborative prevention programs and services to tackle three main areas that affect the development of teens and adolescent youth - substance abuse prevention, emotional wellness and mental health promotion, and academic achievement. In addition to Youth Leaders Council, Eagle River Youth Coalition offers various levels of parenting classes and trainings to community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit www.eagleyouth.org.