Spotlight on youth … Claire Christoff

YLTP (Youth Leadership Training Program) is a three year leadership training opportunity in Niagara Diocese to equip young people to take an active leadership role within their parishes and communities.

Claire is completing her final year, and shared her experiences and insights with the Niagara Anglican.

Niagara Anglican (NA): Who is Claire Christoff?

Claire Christoff (CC): I’m a 15 year old girl, currently in grade nine at Robert Bateman High School Burlington in the pre-International Baccalaureate (IB) program.

I enjoy listening to and playing music, especially my ukulele and guitar, going online, researching, karate and working with kids.

NA: In what activities are you involved?

CC: At school, I’m involved in the debate club, GSA (Gay Straight Alliance), student council, the 30 hour famine club and the fashion show.

At St. Christopher’s Church I work with Shine, a performing arts group, for kids and the girls’ youth group, Faith and Fun. You’ll see me serving on Sunday mornings and performing with the liturgical dancers. I am a team leader for the summer camp Fun in the Sun, am on the Youth Synod Council and attend the Niagara Youth Conference.

I have taught and practiced karate for almost eight years; I currently have my black belt.

NA: How and why did you get involved in YLTP?

CC: After writing and directing a play, followed by a fundraiser that enabled PWRDF to send bicycle ambulances to Mozambique, our Youth Worker Ilona Bevan decided I would be a good person for the program. It didn’t take much convincing to make me want to attend YLTP.

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Claire serves Susanne Suthers and Tom Loker at her candy and bake sale, which was part of her Youth Leadership Training Program. Photo: Hollis Hiscock

I’ve always enjoyed leadership and the program sounded intriguing. I thought YLTP would be challenging, enjoyable and would improve my leadership skills; I was right!

NA: What have you learned and experienced?

CC: The constant exposure to the amazing people in YLTP truly was the highlight of my past three years involved in the program, but I also learned and was exposed to much more.

The most important things I learned at YLTP are the importance of communication, the value in flexibility and how to work with a plan to make success possible.

I’ve done many things with YLTP, most notably working with and experiencing different ways to make a difference. In 2017 we worked with a group sending wheelchairs to war stricken Iraq. In 2016 we went to a cafe whose monetary system allowed people to make donations so others, who couldn’t afford it, could eat.

NA: You sponsored a fundraiser; what was it for?

CC: Dollars for Dogs is my way of showcasing what I learned at YLTP. The “final project” is obligatory, but what we do is completely up to us. I chose to do a fundraiser to help an animal shelter because it struck me a while back that animals have no voice, no way to seek the help they need. That’s the reason why we need to help them.

The funds I raised came from people I know, who made donations to me directly. I reached out to the girls’ youth group I work with and we ran a candy and bake sale.

The funds were split between the church and my fundraiser. In total, over $800 was raised.

NA: How has YLTP helped you live out your faith?

CC: I found a new appreciation for those who plan and carry out church services, as planning services myself was not easy. Now while attending services, I see the depth of the words spoken, and how all the readings and songs are carefully selected and pieced together.

I brought new light into the eyes of my friends when I explained YLTP and my fundraiser, and how religion has more applications than sitting through services. In my case, it’s connecting to others through the work I do.
NA: Any final suggestions?

CC: I encourage all youth in the diocese to attend YLTP, or at least think about it. There’s no “right type of person” for the program, and no way to not do well as long as you give it a go.

NA: Thanks and blessings for the future.

To learn more about the Youth Leadership Training Program contact Su McLeod, Program Consultant for Children, Youth and Family Ministry.