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When you think of the Red Cross your first thought is probably of blood drives and CPR training. Yes, the Red Cross does provide these services, but they do so much more. For example, they provide leadership training for students who want to lead Red Cross Clubs at their school.

On March 7th, I attended the very first Red Cross Club meeting at my school -- Franklin High. Over sixty students showed up at the meeting, not knowing what to expect. Some came to receive service-learning hours, others to find out how to get certified in CPR, and still others came to help the community.

At the meeting, the spokeswoman from the Red Cross, Carolyn Fuss, talked about the basic things the Red Cross does, and she mentioned a new training program for club leaders called "Leadership Training for Young Agents of Change." I decided right away that I wanted to participate. So many students wanted to take the training course that our club sponsor, Bob Galandak, had to pick two people out of a hat. Mine was the second name drawn.

On March 17th, I went to the Red Cross building for the training, but I arrived twenty minutes early. As I sat there I thought, "Great, it's my Saturday morning and I'm getting ready to take a training class for six hours, on my day off. What did I do to get myself into this?" I thought I was going to be sitting in a tiny little room for six hours with some other Franklin kids listening to some old guy lecture on leadership. As the training time approached, I walked into a big room with a circle of chairs, tables and food, and I took a seat.

After the Youth Services Staff explained the agenda for the day, we began with an icebreaker: we stood in a circle and played a name game. It helped us to be comfortable with each other. Then we set goals for ourselves for the day, wrote them down on a sticky note, and placed them on a board. My goal was to be more confident as a leader.

We proceeded through the training discussing and listening to each other. Controversy came up when we made lists of who we thought were good and bad leaders. Martin Luther King, Ghandi, Hitler, and Clinton were some of the names that were mentioned on the lists. We wrote down the values of the leaders that made them 'good' or 'bad,' and from those lists created our own definition of leadership before lunch was provided to us.

My favorite part of the training came after lunch when the staff gave us each a container of play-dough and asked us to make something that represented us. I made a peace sign because I wish for world peace, a girl on a mountain because I love doing outdoors activities, a smiley face because I believe in true happiness, a cross because I believe in God, a girl walking a dog because I work at a kennel and love animals, and finally a heart because I believe in love.

The next thing on the agenda was group work; we got into groups and pondered the best ways to start and lead a club. We then gave presentations on how to recruit and keep members, how to fundraise, and brainstormed ideas for other activities we could do in our club.

Change was our next area of discussion. We decided that change is something we will encounter in our club and that it could be both good and bad. We talked about how to deal with change and how it's important to honor what came before when working with people who resist change. We reflected at the end of the day by seeing whether or not we accomplished our goals. I had accomplished mine.

The training was not at all what I had expected. I didn't sit for six hours and listen to some old guy lecture on leadership. Instead I interacted with eight people in a series of fun, interesting and enlightening activities. I had a great time and would definitely recommend this training to anyone who wants to lead a Red Cross Club. Besides, it's only one Saturday morning you have to sacrifice, so you have nothing to lose.

Becky Sass

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