By Michelle Caceres

Bloomingdale High sophomore Sophia Gonzalez was tentative two years ago when her mom told her she had signed her up for the YMCA’s Teen Leaders Club but after the first meeting she was hooked.

“From the club’s first meeting I have enjoyed the positive environment and bonds formed with other members,” she said.

In the last two years, she has accrued hundreds of community service hours and learned many important life lessons that she will retain into adulthood.

“This club has taught me to be a better person by helping others, including everyone in what you do and becoming a leader when others can’t,” said Gonzalez. “I’ve also learned to be a more talkative and expressive person.”

Leader’s Club advisor Amanda Recupero said Teen Leaders Club gives teens in grades 7 through 12 an opportunity to gain real-life, hands-on leadership experience through volunteer opportunities and trainings at the YMCA, planning and executing events and weekly teen-led club meetings.

This years’ schedule includes rallies in Tampa with other Teen Leaders Clubs from around the state, clinics and the planning and execution of events (5K runs, a dance marathon and more). Participants can earn as many as 100 service hours.

“We believe in cultivating values, skills and relationships that lead to positive behaviors, better health and educational achievement,” said Recupero. One of the unique traits of Teen Leaders Club is that everything is run by the teens themselves. Even the meetings are run by the CAB (Club Advisory Board), consisting of a group of teens that are chosen by their peers to plan and organize meetings and monthly events.

An information meeting will be held at Campo Family YMCA, located at 3414 Culbreath Rd., on Monday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m. for interested teens and their parents. Interested teens must complete a registration form and pass a brief interview.

Club meetings begin Monday, September 14 and are held Monday nights from 6:30–8 p.m. You do not need to be a member of the YMCA to participate. Club fees are $50-$75 for members and $100 for non-members.

For more information about Teen Leaders Club, contact Recupero at or call 684-1371.

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Michelle Caceres
MIchelle Caceres has been writing for the Osprey Observer for seventeen years. She enjoys writing human interest pieces about inspiring members of the community who are working to better our community. She lives in FishHawk Ranch with her husband and recently became an empty-nester. When not writing, Michelle is serving her church community, reading and enjoying Florida's weather.