Romona's Kids: Teens spend summer vacation becoming community leaders

SHAKER HEIGHTS, OH (WOIO) - Summer is a time for kids to have some fun before heading back to school but some of Romona's Kids just took a big chunk of their vacation, to learn how to be leaders in the community. We went to Shaker Heights to see how.

Teens at the SAY Summer Leadership Institute are figuring out ways to take the things they learn here, and spread the word to their peers. The campaign "My Alternate High" will use social media to encourage teens to pick activities other than drugs and alcohol.

Other issues these teens are tackling include dating violence, distracted driving, and bullying. "We're coming up with different ways to be upstanders and leaders in our community, so that we can go back to our schools, and we can teach our peers effectively how to have healthy relationships, and to stand up to bullies," said student Amari Thomas.

"We find campaigns that we feel are very relevant to the teens and then they take the initiative and work on these campaigns," said Nancy Schaumburg, SAY Coalition Coordinator.

"We have forums throughout the year where we open it up to anybody in the community, it's not just the east side suburban school districts," said SAY Director, Chris Ruma-Cullen.

"We are helping to rebuild Cleveland, we're promoting healthy teenager lifestyles," said student Tom DeSilvio. "When I realized that, that's what made me get involved with this program."

The teens also serve the community, by volunteering with preschoolers, the elderly and also at the Cleveland Foodbank.

"We are the people who are going to go out into the community and make a difference and I think that it's really important for us to be the upstanders in our community because one little ripple can start a wave," said student Margot Reid.

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