This guest blog post was co-authored by Kim and Grace, members of the Wheeler Taft Abbett, Sr. Library's Teen Advisory Board. Learn more about getting involved at this year's Rising Voices Youth Summit on Saturday, April 13 at Flowing Wells Library!
We have been Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members since 2016. The foremost reason we enjoy the TAB is because we help provide learning opportunities—many that would otherwise be unavailable—for teens in our community. Plus, we get to do activities that we might not have known about or even thought to participate in.
Recently we created a weekly club where teens could learn how to crochet or knit. Grace crochets and Lisa, a librarian, knits. They worked together to get the club up and running. It was a relaxing, fun, and creative way to spend hot summer days.
We also ran a program creating cards for U.S. Military service members. It was during last year's Summer Reading Program, so we set aside space in the children's area where families would pass by and make a few cards. Parents and kids wrote heartwarming messages to show their appreciation for service members and veterans. Some even wrote about the connections they had with the military and shared their own stories. After a few weeks, we gathered all of the cards and sent them to an organization called "A Million Thanks," where they shipped them overseas for soldiers to read.
In the past, we’ve held donation drives to support those in need. We’ve held a Christmas toy drive for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. We also held a donation drive for the Pima Animal Care Center to collect supplies for pets at the shelter. Every donation we receive is special and reminds us that the people in our community are caring and want to give to those who need it most. These drives show us that donations—even the smallest—can make a difference.
Some of our favorite monthly events are the ones we do with presenters from organizations such as Xerocraft Hackerspace. These events are especially interesting because they help teens build new skills and introduce them to the abundance of creative opportunities we have right here in Tucson. Other events include 3D printing, virtual reality, and vinyl cutting.
We also develop arts and crafts programming. At the most popular of these events, Steampunk Jewelry, teens get to design and create their own trinkets to keep and take home. Every person creates something unique and different, bringing a world of creativity under one roof. Others include origami, drawing, and music production. All of these programs are free and open to any interested teen!
We believe it is important for youth to become leaders. Learning how to lead teaches us responsibility and patience—skills that will serve us well in the future. Planning programs and doing community-based projects with our fellow TAB peers has taught us to plan in advance and understand that good things take time to come to fruition. We've learned about processes and how to start projects. Partnering with the University of Arizona, we've offered educational programs, like résumé writing, which exposed us to important, real-world expectations.
The best part about being on the Teen Advisory Board? There's no pressure—it's about learning, meeting new friends, and preparing to leap into the future and make a difference.