I grew up in the extremely diverse city of Chicago, where I was lucky enough to meet and be friends with people from all kinds of unique backgrounds. Upon moving to the Tampa Bay Area, I realized I had taken diversity for granted. My fellow high school students hadn't even heard of my ethnicity. Thankfully, I learned about Community Tampa Bay's ANYTOWN program and decided to attend. Here, I found other teens and adults who were passionate about not only diversity, but about the overarching concept of social justice. I used to think I knew a lot about the social issues facing my community, but I had a lot to learn. ANYTOWN gave me the confidence to not only come out of my shell, but also to start advocating for change in my own school. I was able to witness so much change in other program participants as well; one of my co-participants even went on found a nonprofit for the benefit of differently-abled youth! I am fortunate enough to come back every year as a counselor for this program, and I get to watch 60 teens undergo a huge change in their attitude and lifestyle every time. Becoming involved with Community Tampa Bay taught me what passion for social change really looks like.
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.
Community Tampa Bay is in a category by itself in terms of its programs' life-changing effect on the youths it serves. I know of no other youth leadership and diversity training program in the country--and I've volunteered for several--that so inspires and impacts teens at a critical point in their lives. Talk to any youth who has experienced ANYTOWN and your optimism in the future will be restored. I only wish more youth, in Tampa Bay and elsewhere, could benefit from ANYTOWN; it is an incredibly effective antidote to intolerance, discrimination and bigotry.
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.
I went to Anytown over this summer and had a GREAT time!! I went in with a negative attatude and really came out a new person. I learned how NOT to judge people based on how they look, beliefs, or class. And most of all I learned skills that will help me out through out my life. I am VERY thankful I went to Anytown. Now I volunteer at the Community Tampa Bay office!
Community Tampa Bay is an enriching community of dedicated, fun and inspiring people, who are all commited to ending discrimination! From the first day of my volunteering experience I have found their beliefs evident in their actions and in their words! I fully believe that my role as a volunteer in this organization will have an impact on youth in our community and around the world.
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.
In 2006, I attended Community Tampa Bay's ANYTOWN program as a delegate. It completely changed my perspective on the world. I learned to be much more open minded toward people who were different from me in any aspect of their social identity from race to religion to sexual orientation. I returned in 2008 as a volunteer counselor for the first time where I had the privilege of touching lives as mine was touched. I strongly believe that every student who walks into ANYTOWN walks out changed for the better. The experiential learning that it allows makes people not only sympathize for those who are different from them but also allows to empathize with them. I am proud to say that I am now working at the CTB office as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the summer. I spend so much of my time volunteering for CTB because I firmly believe that this organization makes measurable improvements toward the vision of creating a community free from all forms of discrimination.