BY KENDAL RAE JENSEN
Since 2007, a Utah-based nonprofit organization, Building Utah Youth, has been committed to investing in the future of Utah’s communities. They do this by utilizing the Teen Leadership Breakthrough program, which teaches youth leadership qualities. Through team-building exercises, self-reflection, and collaboration, teens become empowered to create positive change within themselves and the world around them. Often, the youth who are nominated to the teenage leadership program are in need of a gentle nudge to find direction in their lives or to build self-confidence. Other times, the participants are good students and fine athletes, yet they still need some lessons on leadership qualities in order to focus their potential. Many people can identify a teenager like these mentioned. You may have even been this type of teenager! Imagine how your life would have been impacted by a program like this. Past program director Jamie Johnston said, “What about the kids that are doing good and want to be better? There are no programs for them.
Our program reaches a different group of kids: taking good kids and helping them see their potential. We help them take those skills and characteristics that they already know and build upon them. If they always do what they’ve always done, they will always get what they’ve always got. We help them step outside of their comfort zones in a big way!”
This program is committed to building a better future for Utah by offering transformative opportunities to youth who may otherwise be overlooked. They create collaborative relationships with the participants resulting in the development of personal integrity, youth leadership skills, and reverence for humankind.
Building Utah Youth is open to all teenagers between the ages of 15 to 18 who live in Utah. They strive to provide all students with the youth leadership skills they’ll need to become our next generation of thoughtful, responsible leaders.
My 16-year-old daughter Laney was a scholarship recipient of the program last fall. In her experience, she stepped outside of her comfort zone and gained valuable life and leadership skills that will serve her throughout her education and career. It changed her perception and value of herself and her abilities. The parent class that my husband and I were able to attend in conjunction, was incredibly empowering and emotional. It helped us develop our relationship and understanding of each other on a much deeper level.
Building Utah Youth provides the only youth leadership programs available to teenagers in our beautiful state of Utah. BUY serves all of Utah—with camps at Daniel’s Summit and UTABA, and growing every year. The summer courses ensure each teen leaves with improved confidence and personal development skills that are invaluable to becoming the best versions of themselves when they reach adulthood.
Building Utah Youth functions on the RIPPLE EFFECT—Respect, Integrity, Passion, Personal Power, Leadership and Enthusiasm. All the activities and lessons center around these principles.
BUY has been empowering our youth with free leadership training to those who have been nominated by teachers, coaches, and community partners, facilitated through dynamic team-building exercises and other fun youth-oriented activities. BUY holds a fundraising gala in the fall each year with the goal of raising enough money to fund these leadership camps free of charge. Currently, they are also raising money in hopes of opening their own building that will enable them to hold many more classes and programs for many more youth. This type of investment in our youth is actually a reinvestment straight back into our community.
The impact of teenage leadership training is immediately seen in our schools and the teenagers’ home lives but will have longitudinal benefits in our businesses and communities. As anyone who has experienced these leadership courses in the past will tell you, this type of training gives the individual a chance for self-reflection and personal growth. These training techniques will lead a person to a sense of public stewardship and personal accountability, producing crucial facets of character that cultivate over a person’s lifetime. Further, the entire community benefits because empowered youth become responsible, capable adults and citizens. Youth participants can go back after going through the program to be a part of the leadership team and be a teacher.
They also produce a monthly podcast called The Empowering (YOU)th Podcast with personal and family stories about experiences in the program. You can find it on Apple or Amazon Podcasts. One of those stories is about the Weber County family of Jamie and Tucker Doak. The Doak family has been forever changed by Building Utah Youth and the company it originated from, Rapport Leadership International. Both Jamie and Tucker have gone through the adult leadership programs and two of their kids have graduated from the youth program. Jamie has loved every minute of her 8 years of service on the board, watching the kids learn and grow.
We invite you to learn more about BUY so that you can help find youth who can benefit from what they offer. Their goal is to have the youth of Utah be within the ranks of dynamic people who make a positive difference in the world, and by nominating a teen, you will be, too. By Building Utah Youth, they are building a better Utah.
To nominate a teen, contact Jamie at firstname.lastname@example.org or for more information visit buildingutahyouth.org.
All Photos are courtesy of Building Utah Youth