Where does the water go when you flush the toilet? Many students have never thought about it.
“As a 16-, 17-year-old kid, you don't think where your water goes when you flush. You only think about going to school and what you'll have for lunch,” said Kassandra Argueta, 18, a former participant in the Yuma Youth Leadership program.
The local program is designed to help high school juniors in the Yuma Union High School District learn more about the community and its businesses and organizations.
Argueta called her experience with the program “eye-opening.” During her junior year at Cibola, she toured the city water treatment facility and learned what happens to toilet water after it's flushed.
She also relished an opportunity to learn how city government works by attending a council meeting.
On Thursday she accompanied her 16-year-old sister Eden as YYL participants toured Yuma Regional Medical Center.
“Every month we show them a different aspect of the community. We take them out and let them see how this town runs,” said Mike Foree, a retired teacher who chaperoned the group.
“The Yuma Youth Leadership program helps local youth become better acquainted with the community.”
This year students have gotten a behind-the-scenes look at city facilities, media outlets such as the Yuma Sun and KYMA, and now the hospital.
A group of 23 students donned head-to-toe operating room scrubs and performed a “sinus” procedure in the YRMC Outpatient Surgery Department. Using hospital equipment, they plucked polyps (seeds) from nose stand-ins — in this case, bell peppers. Other years, students stitched up chickens and sawed plastic bones.
Rebecca Larson, YRMC community relations specialist, said the hospital is happy to let students experience hands-on surgical techniques in a real medical setting.
“It's exciting to have kids come and give them an opportunity to see what health care is about and what it takes to run a hospital. If they are interested in a career in health care, they learn what they'll need to know to do it,” Larson said.
Indeed, the program allows students to explore career options.
Brandon Barnville, a 15-year-old student at Cibola High School, had already decided to be an electrical engineer, but Thursday's hospital tour had him rethinking his choice. Although not quite decided on a career path, he appreciates that the program allows him to explore career options and develop leadership skills.
“I can learn more leadership skills and explore many things and many jobs. I know it can help me out in my career.”
Barnville also enjoys the chance to “meet new people and do things many students wouldn't get to do.”
Seventeen-year-old Munashe Zvavamwe wants to be a doctor, so the tour was “perfect” for him. In addition, he said, participating in the program has given him “more confidence to speak to people and to be more outgoing.”
Zvavamwe also noted that honing leadership skills is important because if a person finds something he or she doesn't like, they can do more than complain, they can step up and help.
This is the reason why Janicia Ortiz, age 16 and a San Luis High School student, joined the program.
“I want to know my community better. A lot of people want to improve things but they don't know how to put it into action.”
The program has allowed her to “learn more than you can imagine. There are so many jobs,” Ortiz added.
Visiting the rehab made her think about the people going through hardships who can't afford the treatments and therapy they need.
In addition to touring the community, students spend time every month with Toastmasters Club members, developing public speaking skills.
Mara Knaub can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6856. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSMaraKnaub or on Twitter at @YSMaraKnaub.