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Empowering the Future: The Red Cross Youth Institute successfully launched in Alabama & Mississippi

Across the region, young individuals come together, driven by a common goal - to make a difference in their community and beyond. Red Cross Youth Clubs have a rich history dating back several decades and what started as a small gathering of young volunteers has become a powerful force for good. 💜

These clubs were established with the vision of involving young people in meaningful volunteer work, providing them with valuable life skills, and instilling a sense of compassion and empathy.

This June, the Alabama and Mississippi Region of the American Red Cross held the first-ever Youth Leadership Institutes for youth leaders at Red Cross offices across both states, one in North Mississippi and the other in North Central Alabama. One of the most remarkable aspects about the Red Cross youth club program is the emphasis it places on skill development. These young leaders aren't your typical student volunteers; they are trained in disaster response, first aid, and community outreach. Skills that will not only benefit their communities but also shape their future careers.

While their focus is primarily local, the Clubs are part of a global network. They participate in international youth exchanges, where they learn about different cultures and contribute to humanitarian efforts worldwide. This global perspective fosters a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness of the world and the importance of helping those in need, regardless of borders. Red Cross Youth Club leadership, college and high school volunteers interested in establishing clubs were invited. Students engaged in team-building activities, hands-on learning, collaboration and knowledge sharing.

A sampling of the day’s activities included:

  • Red Cross Club Information Deep Dive

  • Disaster Cycle Services: comfort kits, hands-only CPR

  • Learning Lunch with MapSwipe overview and group games

  • Biomedical facility tour

  • Service to the Armed Forces:

    • Totes of Hope

    • Letters to Veterans

    • International Humanitarian Law at the Movies

Students ended the day with Red Cross “swag”, a tee shirt, and an overwhelming sense of unity and responsibility. These young individuals are proof that when youth come together with a common purpose, they have the power to change the world for the better.

If you're a young person looking to make a positive impact in your community and gain valuable skills, starting or joining a Red Cross Club might be the perfect opportunity for you. Many former members have gone on to become leaders in their communities, driven by the values instilled by the Red Cross.

The Youth Institute was led by Amy Cottrell with the assistance of Red Cross Club Coordinators, Carmen Novoa and Margaret Ott. To learn more, visit or email

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