Bring Your Game, Not Your Name!

By Hoyt Gong, Pasadena Executive Board President, Youth Board Member of the Pasadena Board of Directors, and Senior at South Pasadena High School

I was sitting with my Youth Coordinator, Anna Giang, back in late January, brainstorming speech ideas for the annual San Gabriel Valley Youth Summit. She had just told me the theme of this year’s event and I had some initial hesitations about speaking at the welcome ceremony (even though it was over a month away!). This was going to be the first time the Red Cross Youth program ever hosted a Preparedness Fair with the Youth Summit and I, along with my peers, did not know what to expect. Nonetheless, being a region-wide activity, we were all eager to collaborate with each other and set a high bar for the fair.

But days pass by quickly when you’re procrastinating on a speech and, before long, it was March 18th!

The morning was a blur as we all filed into the auditorium, ready for the day’s workshops ahead. The superintendent of the San Gabriel School District welcomed us all as we took a cheering “role call,” learning that all of us in the audience hailed from schools across Southern California— from Santa Monica to the Antelope Valley to Pomona. Yet, beyond the introductions, our speakers were able to motivate us to think about the larger role that we, as youth, play in our communities. When I gave my talk, as a keynote speaker, I couldn’t help but feel empowered by the fact that I was speaking on behalf of youth, towards other youth who I could, in turn, also motivate.

Later that morning, we went to our respective workshops to learn a variety of ideas that the Youth Summit had to offer. Arcadia and Long Beach Red Cross Youth Executive Board members taught a Prepare Teens presentation and a CPR & First Aid training. And, this outreach certainly went noticed – we had over 200 middle and high school students in attendance at the Summit listening to what the Red Cross had to offer.

But, an even greater Red Cross presence was at our Youth Preparedness Fair, where over 100 Red Cross youth volunteers across the region representing all 10 youth corps created booths to showcase our organization. During lunch, all of us were donning Good Deeds Day t-shirts in conjunction with a global movement to promote good deeds while managing our service activities. From Measles and Rubella bowling to preparedness obstacle courses, high school clubs each designed fun booths to captivate the young audiences while staying true to the mission of the American Red Cross.

And, even though we literally brought our “games” to the fair, we brought much more in providing a sense of who we are as an organization. Not our name and branding, but rather demonstrations and actions that stayed true to our principles as Red Cross volunteers.

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