A new program will be available for children and students ages 4-18, beginning with auditions on Aug. 6. From there, 60 individuals will be selected to participate in the first Arizona Teen Board.

Program director Yvette Torres-Dickson, who grew up in Texas, has had first-hand experience with a teen board. Cognizant of the profound impact her participation has had on her own life, she was determined to bring a similar program to the Valley.

Reflecting on her high school days, Torres-Dickson said, "It (being involved with Teen Board) was an amazing experience and helped me grow both personally and professionally."

Made possible by the partnership of the Ahwatukee Children's Theatre (ACT) and the Chandler Fashion Mall, the Teen Board represents an opportunity for students to explore various fields such as marketing, public relations, acting and modeling. Once or twice a month, students will meet at the ACT for workshops to learn about and develop skills such as working well as a team, understanding basic market principles, and excelling at public speaking. After taking these lessons, the students will put their skills to the test as they work with the marketing staff of Chandler Fashion Mall and represent their peers.

The main focus area for the Teen Board will be in community outreach and marketing. Students will be asked to promote events at school and on the radio to create a grass roots organization. Students will even have the opportunity to strut down a runway in fashion shows and engage in theatrical merchandising.

After the 10-month period, the students will have a career day to ask questions to the professionals they have worked with for advice on how to make their own dreams possible. In the end, Torres-Dickson hopes to instill confidence and high self-esteem into Teen Board members to help them chase their dreams.

"You will always need to market yourself," Torres-Dickson said. "Whether it's in school or for a job, no matter your interest, you always need to market yourself."

And learning to market is exactly what the Teen Board is about.

Though the activities may seem daunting and even overwhelming, everyone is encouraged to come out to the auditions. Torres-Dickson has expressed that this program is for everyone.

"It isn't just a teen board in the traditional sense," she said. "We wanted to take it a step further. You don't have to be model perfect. We want more of a role model for the typical teen today, all shapes and size."

Ahwatukee Foothills resident Timothy Lee is a senior at Desert Vista High School. He is interning this summer for the Ahwatukee Foothills News.



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