CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- There's a lot of people who would likely change something about their teenage years.
- Jen Band is the director/founder of the nonprofit, Playing for Others.
- The group works with teens to answer two questions: Who am I and how will I give of that?
- If you have an idea for our next Everyday Hero please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katie Feldstein is still living hers but they didn't start off how she wanted.
"I was scared to share myself with other people," she said.
That was three years ago and the start of high school. Today, sharing is where she thrives.
Jen Band describes this awakening not as stepping out of your comfort zone but rather expanding it.
It's what Band pushes for every day as the director and founder of the nonprofit Playing for Others.
The group works with teenagers to answer two questions: Who am I and how will I give of that?
Seventy-five teens spend 10 months figuring that out. They learn personal development and leadership skills. They also volunteer and learn to express themselves.
Spoken word and music are some of the performance methods teens do throughout the year.
Akhirah Gaskin wasn't thrilled when her mom signed her up. She was admittedly shy. A few years later, she embraces it.
"My confidence grew a lot and it helped me gained skills that I need today," said Gaskin.
That transformation is why Band surrounds herself with a group of people adults sometimes don't know how to interact with.
"To see a young person go from shy, can't stand up in front of people and talk... to the complete polar opposite. I'm so passionate about that," Band said.
Perhaps it's because Band was once an insecure teenager.
"I just knew that who I really was, wasn't in alignment with how I was showing up in the world," Band said.
But now Band has found her passion.
"She bombards us with acceptance and love and her energy is relentless in an amazing way," said Katie Feldstein.
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