The first week of high school is always intimating. Shuffling from class to class, trying to find a place where you belong within the halls you will come to know for the next four years. During Prescott High School’s club day, students like Maddison Pierce were able to sign-up for clubs that interested them, and she signed up for quite a few.
“I felt PAL would be the best fit for me… I thought I could make a difference,” Maddison says. PAL stands for Peer Assistance and Leadership, a youth leadership program run by North Star Youth Partnership.
North Star Youth Partnership, a program of Catholic Charities, has a variety of opportunities for students of all ages in Northern Arizona. From Safe Sitter training to help young girls learn the emergency skills needed to be babysitters to GoGirlGo! which introduces girls to a variety of different sports to promote healthy lifestyles, North Star Youth Partnership works to promote healthy lifestyles within the youth of their community to prevent gang violence, drug addiction, etc.
Specifically PAL works with high school students, helping teens develop and strengthen the competencies needed to become successful, productive adults. These students work together on community service projects, gaining skills conflict resolution and peer leadership.
Maddison participated in her school’s PAL program from her freshman to her senior year. She worked on a variety of service projects in her community, her favorite being when she collected clothes, food and necessities for the homeless.
“We went to different hotels and stores asking for donations… we actually got a lot,” she said. We visited a homeless shelter and personally handed everything out to them,” She recalls. “They were beyond grateful. I remember one man specifically came up and grabbed one single jacket. We were trying to get him to grab more, ‘Take some food,’ we said. He refused anything more and said, ‘There is someone who needs that more than I do.’ It changed my perspective. It showed me how people who can have the least amount of anything can still be humble with what they have.”
Maddison says not only were the service projects influential in her life, but her PAL leaders were as well. “They made sure all of us felt loved and had what we needed to succeed.” She always loved listening to their stories from experiences in their life and receiving their advice when they needed it.
Newly graduated from high school, Maddison plans on bringing PAL to another school in her area to give other students the community she cherished so much during her high school years. She hopes to go to beauty school and pursue a degree in business. Mostly, she wants to continue to help and influence people throughout her whole life.
“[PAL] taught me so many things that will help me the rest of my life,” Maddison says. “Be open and be loving and giving… there needs to be more love in the world.”