A Peek Into The AALEAD Virginia Summer Program

By: Sharon Rajadurai, VA Summer Programs Intern and AALEAD Virginia Youth Program Coordinators (YPCs)

Photos courtesy of AALEAD staff


Virginia Summer programs have been two weeks filled with fun, learning, and growth. Our days begin with ice breakers and team building activities led by our eager Youth Program Coordinators (YPCs). YPC is an opportunity for our high school AALEADers during the summer to develop their leadership skills by participating in the planning as well as facilitating programming for their younger AALEAD counterparts and peers!

“I enjoy being a YPC because of the freedom to express myself and help out the youth.”– Amy T., 10th grade, YPC

A notable activity we started the program with is called the Tree of Life, where we built a tree made of roots (places we come from), branches (our hopes, dreams, and wishes), leaves (the people who are important to us), and flowers (the legacies we hope to leave behind).

“The Tree of Life was cool way to learn about people’s backgrounds and goals.” – Diane V., 10th grade, YPC

Our classroom includes a wall of individually decorated brown paper bags, each with a youth’s name. Letters of love is an activity where youth can write positive encouraging letters to their peers and drop them in their respective bags to be opened at the end of programs.

“Letters of Love is important because it increases youth confidence, shows that AALEAD relationships are real, and is a way to show people that they are loved.” -Diane V., Darius W., & Chung L., 10th grade, YPCs

We have also engaged in various discussion-based workshops regarding identity led by various YPCs and program staff.

Each week, we bring the youth on a field trip where they get to bond with their fellow AALEADers, and enjoy a fun day with their friends. The first week was a Summer Program kickoff barbecue combined with MD and DC programs. The second week, we spent a hot day at the Water Mine playing water volleyball, zooming down the water slides, and wading in the lazy river. In the final weeks of the summer program, we anticipate presentations on our final project, more workshops, and field trips to Washington DC and Six Flags.

“I am sad that Summer programs are ending. AALEAD provided me a temporary escape from the struggles of high school.”- Jimmy L., 10th grade, YPC

“I am really glad I volunteered as a YPC this year”- Darius W., 10th grade, YPC

Spending this summer with AALEAD has been an experience we will never forget!

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