“The great thing about KAY is that every student can join and in turn see how easy it is to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Written by: Samantha Harms
Across the state of Kansas, 149 schools are participating in an youth movement, where the next generation of midwest Americans are accepting their social duties to society with open arms.
The Kansas Association for Youth is unique program that’s all about providing students an opportunity to not only “assume their citizenship responsibilities,” but to also “enrich their personalities through well-organized programs, projects and parties.”
It has four main areas of service — school, community, nation and world – and every year KAY members complete numerous community service projects in each. Founded in 1945 by the Legislative Council of Kansas, the program originally was divided into the Kayettes and the Kays (boys and girls), yet now it’s a co-ed experience for most high schools.
“KAY is a character-building, leadership-training service organization and to me, KAY is an organization that has the potential to make a huge impact on our society,” said KAY assistant executive director Cheryl Gleason, who has been working with the company for 43 consecutive years. “By participating in KAY, I and thousands of other Kansas students have acquired lifelong skills and experiences that no one can ever take away. The great thing about KAY is that every student can join and in turn see how easy it is to make a difference in the lives of others.”
The nationally acclaimed organization has many virtues it teaches its members including: to love and be loved, to think creatively and to seek the truth. KAY also have several objectives that members strive to fulfill: character, health, service, appreciation, recreation and leadership. Their slogan is “Laugh, Love, Lift” and the motto is “Today for Tomorrow.”
“The KAY program is making a huge impact on our society by instilling upon the members the importance of assuming their citizenship responsibility and stepping forward to be a leader and of service to others,” Gleason said. “Through the years I have seen the difference the program has made in students. I honestly believe these students will make a difference.”
I know that for me personally, without this program, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I wouldn’t be striving to make sure the world is a little better everyday by recycling or turning off lights I’m not using. This program, and the friends I made through the program, are truly things I couldn’t live without.
While only students get to participate in the actual program, schools who do not have the club are more than welcome to start it. The club is also always in need of donations. If you would like to help out, contact Gleason at [email protected] or 785-273-5329.