The American Red Cross (ARC) Teen Corps is a group of students between the ages of 11 and 18 years old from all over Central Florida. They gather every Saturday morning to participate in community service projects, peer facilitated classes, and disaster training and response. Teen Corps members donate in excess of 15,000 each year as a group and average of over 200 hours per member. These youth are trained in CPR/AED and first Aid, as well as fully trained and certified as disaster responders. They work with local shelters, Green-Up projects, local food banks and more. They are peer facilitators and routinely teach Basic First Aid, Disaster and Fire Prevention education, and leadership development to youth within their community. During the 2004 Hurricane season, these youth donated in excess of 10,800 hours to hurricane preparedness, response and recovery. From Hurricane Charley through Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne, Teen Corps members staffed shelters and delivered needed meals, ice and water. They worked in communications centers, operations centers and every other phase of disaster operations. Wherever help was needed Red Cross Teen Corps members were there.
As a result of the efforts of Teen Corps members, thousands of young people receive free safety training that includes CPR/AED and First Aid, as well as disaster training and fire prevention education. Teen corps members have helped move playgrounds at local YMCA’s, plant new trees and beautify depressed neighborhoods and rejuvenate community parks and right of ways. They collect, sort and box food items with 2nd Harvest Food Bank for distribution to local families. Their activities before, during and after the hurricanes that devastated our community were selfless, compassionate and committed. These young people represented the best of what Florida and Central Florida communities have to offer.
Teen Corps members choose to volunteer. They choose and plan all of the community service projects they participate in as well as their training in disaster preparedness and response so that they are ready when they are needed. Teen Corps does not discriminate, and it does not matter if the need is that of an individual, a family, a neighborhood, or an entire community. Teen Corps members are there willing, committed and ready to take on any task, large or small. As far as they are concerned, they are Red Crossers first; they are today’s leaders, tomorrow’s leaders and our future. Teen Corps members spent every hour that they were out of school during the hurricanes working the response. They did so with great attitudes, great compassion, and with a sense of community that few people would think them capable of. Nothing was impossible to them. As the Teen Corps Creed says they “accept any task large of small, and can at it’s conclusion look at their image in the mirror and truthfully say I gave it 110%, I am Red Cross Teen Corps.