I moved from Colombia in 2000, and had had a difficult time feeling like I belonged. In my earlier years in this country, I was made fun off at school because I had an accent, thus I shut down.I intentionally excluded myself from school functions because I didn't want to be laughed at. In 2008, I got the privilege of attending the ANYTOWN program. This incredible opportunity transformed how I look at myself and others. I was able to relate my feelings of being excluded to others; I was able to connect with people different from me because we shared similar experiences. In addition, Community Tampa Bay really helped me to become more involved. It gave me the tools I needed to be confident in myself and create change in my community,making it the phrase "YOUTH are the LEADERS of TODAY" very tangible. Ever since that summer, I have been involved with this organization and its programs. I have been a volunteer at youth conferences, at the office, and at ANYTOWN. Every time I volunteer, I grow and learn about myself. One of my goals is to make the ANYTOWN movement global! I feel that everyone has the right to feel included and know they are indispensable to their community.
I attended the ANYTOWN program in the summer of 2008 and to put things simply, this program changed my life. ANYTOWN and it's amazing volunteers opened my eyes and taught me to be a leader. My life has been significantly changed for the better since attending this program and I have encouraged many peers to attend as well. There is no other program in the United States that can make such a significant impact on teens in such a short amount of time. The youth is our future, and Community Tampa Bay is cultivating tomorrows leaders.
I was amazed at the change that happened to me at ANYTOWN. Im a different person because of the dedication of the volunteers and advisors a ANYTOWN. I reccomend teens all the times and ill continue to do so. Thank you ANYTOWN. Your a true life saver. You saved mine and gave me a new family. # ANYTOWN FOREVER
I went to the ANYTOWN camp provided by Community Tampa Bay and my entire perspective on my community was changed. Before I attended, I was set on going to a college out of state and "escaping" Tampa, because I felt like I didn't want anything to with a community I was out of touch with. But now I realize the best way to like where you live is have a hand in building it up; I am now looking for schools in state so that I can try to do volunteer work, hopefully with Community Tampa Bay, and make a discrimination free society (*all* forms of discrimination) for everyone to live in, because I am a leader of today, not just tomorrow. It was tough, at first, because I myself held very rash and sometimes very wrong prejudices about changing society. I went in with a mentality of "I'd like to, but I can't; who would listen?" But ANYTOWN links you to kids just like you who want the same thing, and it solves half the problem right there, because instantly you have sixty other people to work with you and these sixty people do, in fact, care enough to listen. Among other things, during this week of workshops, my group learned about discrimination, prejudices, and how it starts with just an idea that then becomes a stereotype; we learned to suspend our disbelief and place ourselves in others' shoes. In one very memorable activity, we were shown how socially-influenced gender roles affect both males and females, and in another we were all given fake disabilities and had to learn to live with them. In only a couple days, a group of teens had their mindsets change from the average teen to those who truly believe in their community.
Community Tampa Bay has significantly influenced my family and the young man who attended. I attended the Community Night and witnessed the youth delegates and their stories first hand and I was so inspired by their enthusiasm and passion. I will forever be a supporter of this program and all the great work of Community Tampa Bay.