Laura McKean and Taylor Kelly were part of the 2004 Show-Me State Games on Friday, but not as athletes. They checked out the track and field event first-hand by supporting the Missouri athletes, keeping score, timing races and helping with concessions.
“A whole bunch of other people come from different states, and it’s really fun to see everyone here,” Laura said.
Laura and Taylor, both 12 years old, are participants in Youth in Action, a summer volunteer program targeting children between the ages of 12 and 15. The youth volunteers are supervised by City of Columbia Office of Volunteer Services staff.
Thirty-seven young adults are enrolled in the program this year and 20 children have attended most of the scheduled events.
“It’s exciting, and you feel good that you’re doing stuff for the community.” Laura said.
Anne Meysenburg, an intern at Youth in Action, said there is a newfound focus on civic responsibility and group cohesiveness this year. She said one of her goals is to help children see the importance of civic duty in their lives and in the lives of others through involvement in a wide array of programs.
Laura and Taylor, both students at Gentry Middle School, said they share the same feeling of being excited by the event.
“I love it; it’s really a good exercise where you learn how you can help the community even though we aren’t old enough,” Taylor said.
Meysenburg said she was disappointed the number of participants decreased by 20 from last year, something that didn’t meet the personal goal she set for participation when she started as an intern running the program for volunteer services this year.
“I want to create awareness in the community on the Youth in Action program to make marketing easier for next year,” Meysenburg said.
Laura and Taylor were involved in a lot of previous activities in the program, but they said the best one was the dog wash by Columbia Second Chance.
Projects for this summer also include youth education. Activities will include decorating recycling bins and a tour of the city recycling center, each facilitated by the Columbia Department of Public Works, and a car wash at Patricia’s IGA in August.
“I also wanted the kids to see how effort can pay off in the big picture. For this reason, the kids brainstormed community projects and decided on a recycling focus,” Meysenburg said.