How One Idea Takes Shape: Leading Local Youth to National Competition

 

hetal shaw_rco_blog_img_jpgby Hetal Shah, Volunteer Program Coordinator, International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign, Los Angeles Region

It all began with one idea. After having served as a Team Leader for the Orange County Chapter’s International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign last year, I knew that the Los Angeles Region could not miss out on this amazing opportunity.

That’s when I proposed the idea of starting the IHL Campaign in my home region to Allyson Joy and Margaret Arbini-Madonna at the Long Beach Rio Hondo Chapter. Ally and Margaret have always been incredibly supportive, serving as role models for me.

In the beginning of the campaign in June 2014, they helped me develop the strongest leadership committee ever, consisting of youth and adult volunteers and staff.

During the summer, the committee members and I developed Team Member and Leader applications, training materials, and flyers. We attended numerous regional youth meetings to distribute information about the program and called countless universities and high schools to ensure that we could recruit as many students as possible. Finally, we held an informational event so that people could learn more about the campaign.

The work, of course, didn’t stop there. Throughout the school year, we chose our teams, trained the participants, monitored team meetings, scheduled recreational events, filled out paperwork, attended team events, and finally, waited in anticipation to hear from Red Cross national headquarters about team selections for the National Youth Symposium.

I can honestly say that it took tons and tons of time and work to make this campaign successful. But there was never a moment when I regretted taking on the role of Program Coordinator for the IHL Action Campaign in the Los Angeles Region.

IHL winners in Washington, June 2015

During the final banquet, a few of the Team Leaders, Members, and leadership committee members told me what an impact the campaign had on their lives professionally and personally, and thanked me for beginning it. One told me that he finally had the courage to speak up about his ideas during meetings. Another stated that she never knew how creative she truly was until the campaign.

Now, this is my opportunity to tell you that this campaign connected me with such incredibly inspiring, hard-working, compassionate, and resilient people, which resulted in 1,717 more people knowing about IHL and gave Torrance’s North High School team the opportunity to see National Headquarters.

Seeing these results makes me so proud of my team and the incredible campaign that we created. It makes me realize that all of the work and time I put into the campaign was worth it. My experience with the International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign has just proven again what I never really doubted: that I will be a Red Crosser for life!

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