Teen Jumps Into Leadership Role at Youth in Action

Webster Groves High School's Sarah Addison makes a difference with Kirkwood-based Youth in Action.

A 14-year-old Webster Groves student busy building a singing and acting career has found yet another passion to juggle.

Her latest love is volunteering, and she’s thrown herself into it with the same zeal she has for the stage and screen.

Sarah Addison said she was looking for a way to earn service hours when she entered Webster Groves High School this year as a freshman. She found a home in Youth in Action, a Kirkwood-based service group.

Since September she has put in well over the 50 hours she was shooting for.

“Actually, I just thought it was a lot of fun,” she said. “I really like meeting new people and all different types of people and just helping out in the community in general. I like meeting other people who care about helping others.”

Addison already was managing multiple interests before getting into volunteering. This year she also added cross-country running to the mix. She ran for the WGHS cross country team, but since she also landed the role of Brigitta in the fall musical, The Sound of Music, she often needed to do her training runs on her own time, apart from the team.

She also is a top student and plays clarinet in the school band. That meant participating in marching band this year.

“I’m just able to manage it pretty well,” she said.

Addison has been acting and singing in theater and commercials since she was about 11. Last summer, she began giving free voice lessons to a couple of younger kids; word spread, and now she teaches about 10 students on a regular basis.

“Sometimes I have a lot of homework and I think, ‘Why am I doing this?’ And then other times I’m just really, really glad I’m doing it because it’s so fun,” she said. “I guess I can be kind of a role model to them.”

Within Youth in Action, a nonprofit youth group with about 45 members, Addison quickly emerged as a leader, the group's executive director Keith Rawlings said.

“She’s just a go-getter,” he said. “Her motive is just to make a difference.”

Addison designed and manages her own website for her acting and voice-over career, so she suggested to Rawlings that she could give the Youth in Action website an update. Rawlings gave her the go ahead, and she soon added graphics and photos to make it more “teen-friendly.”

“I designed my acting website so it was super easy,” she said.

Her current project with Youth in Action is collecting Christmas gifts for victims of last spring's tornado in Joplin and for children served by several local charities (read .)

Youth in Action volunteers set up more than 20 trees around the area. Addison and two friends volunteered to set up, decorate and monitor the giving tree at Schnucks in Webster Groves.

The volunteer group hopes to collect 2,000 presents by Dec. 21. At last count, about 500 gifts had been donated, Addison said. To find giving tree locations or to donate online, visit the group's website.  


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