Vail Daily column: Teen gives selfless service to community | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily column: Teen gives selfless service to community

Katie Smith, a junior at Eagle Valley High School, prefers to put other's needs before her own. This selfless, empathetic and compassionate young woman has already received many accolades during her short high school career. A talented student athlete, she has earned academic honors during her high school years. While a devoted teammate on the varsity track and field team and cross country team, she earned a Leadership Award and an Outstanding Performance Award.

Smith has dedicated her time to assisting others who need a helping hand or a slight confidence boost. She is a member of Eagle Valley High School's Devils Against Destructive Decisions Club. This group encourages fellow students to make safe and responsible decisions. An avid skier, she volunteers for the Bright Future Foundation's Buddy Mentor Program.

"Living in a small valley has a lot to offer, but it is important that we continue to improve and better our community," she said. "One way we can do this is by giving back and paying it forward."

Summer Leadership Forum attendee

This summer, she was awarded a scholarship through the Women's Foundation of Colorado to attend a seven-day Summer Leadership Forum at the University of Denver. This competitive opportunity allowed young talented women to learn about global leaders, community service and the benefits of philanthropic efforts.

'Grateful for what I have'

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Smith has played a critical role in Eagle River Youth Coalition's Youth Leadership Council. These hand selected students represent all six local high schools and advise police authorities, principals, school counselors and small businesses on community-wide youth concerns. Through a collective voice, the Youth Leadership Council members offer strategies to make our valley a healthier and more inclusive environment for teens.

"I love to serve others because I really enjoy smiling and laughing with other people," Smith said. "When I do something to give back to the community, it makes me smile and the people I am serving smile. It has taught me that caring for others can be fun and to be grateful for what I have."

We are quite fortunate to have Katie Smith as a student leader in our community. Her unselfish acts of kindness should be admired and duplicated by her peers.

Jason Peck is the program director at 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 including: 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 education and trainings for community members. For more information, call 970-949-9250 or visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.