Building Youth Around the World make stop in Montezuma Creek
What started as a not-so ordinary Eagle Scout project five years ago, has developed into an organization that has given dozens of Utah youth the opportunity to help hundreds of people throughout the world.
The idea for Building Youth Around the World began in 2009, when Braedon McCracken and his father, Ian, traveled to ILoilo, Philippines and delivered supplies to a school for Braedon's Eagle Scout project. Braedon explained that the school had no electricity or water and there were sixty students per teacher in each classroom. Braedon said they talked to a family friend in the Philippines and decided that his project would be a good way to help people there.
"My dad actually started the foundation and it's just grown from there," Braedon said. "We decided to keep it going each year with a project."
"I was born in the Philippines, so it was like going home," Ian said. "It was a nice starting point."
After the experience in the Philippines, Ian and Braedon McCracken decided to establish a 501c3 Not-For- Profit organization called Building Youth Around the World. Since it's founding, the organization has grown significantly. Ian Mc- Cracken, owner of an Executive Recruiting and Consulting Firm, in the Salt Lake City area, explained that since the first trip to the Philippines, Building Youth Around the World has traveled to Western Samoa and Vailele, Africa and many parts of America. They have also sent supplies to Kenya, Thailand and Cambodia.
In July, Building Youth Around the World spent a week in the Montezuma Creek area, delivering clothing, food, medical, dental and hygiene kits, books, coats, playground equipment, stuffed animals and other items to youth on the Utah portion of the Navajo Reservation. Ian explained that 47 people from ten families throughout northern Utah participated in the project. They were joined by ten residents from the Montezuma Creek area, who acted as hosts and helped with the project.
The group brought a pair of 28-foot trailers, filled with items collected and donated from various sources before leaving for southeast Utah. Ian said the project was completely youth-driven and the youth were responsible for collecting the donations at area schools, neighborhood donation drives, grocery stores and other locations where boxes were placed to collect the items.
"One person donated twenty boxes of books," Ian said.
Other donations were collected from various corporate sponsors, who have become involved with the effort. Financial and in-kind donations from these corporate sponsors have helped promote the efforts of these young people to change the lives of many young people around the world.
Building Youth Around the World has three main focuses. They are:
• Provision of essentials for living to underprivileged youth and their families
• Education through better schooling, self-improvement and leadership development and training in all its facets
• Numerous healthcare related support for children and their families to include nutrition
These three focuses are more than just a few words to live by. The youth involved in Building Youth Around the World in the Montezuma Creek area seemed to take them to heart. 10-year-old Audrey Burg as joined her father, Dr. Jeffrey Burg, a Pediatric Dentist, in working with Building Youth Around the World since she was 7 years old. She said delivering food, coats, books and other items to needy families is a great experience. Dr. Burg spent his days at the Montezuma Creek Community Clinic giving checkups and exams to local youth.
10-year-old Jenna Wooton, 13-year-old Sam Thomas and 14-year-old Nathan Weir all agreed with Burg. The four were part of a team that worked out of the Montezuma Creek Community Clinic. Thomas said the experience was amazing. Weir said this trip was his first experience with Building Youth Around the World, but he enjoyed it enough to want another chance next year, when the group goes to another location.
"We're helping change lives," Weir said.
"You realize how lucky you are to live in a nice big house and have things," Burg added.
Thomas said the experience in Montezuma Creek gave a lot of those in the group a chance to see a real Hogan. He said he'd heard about them in school, but he'd never seen a real one. All four said it was different to see hogans near homes that were actually used by some families they visited.
The group traveled by bus from Salt Lake City, and one rule was, no electronic devices allowed for the youth. Adults were allowed to have them, but not the youth. Weir said it was a little hard making the trip down without the electronic devices because they didn't know a lot of people. But once the youth started making new friends, living without the devices was a lot easier.
The days started at 6:00 a.m. with breakfast and daily preparations. From 8:00 a.m. to noon the youth distributed the donated items to homes throughout the area. At noon, lunch was served at Whitehorse High School, where the group stayed during its visit. After lunch the group traveled to several local attractions like Natural Bridges, The Four Corners Monument, Mesa Verde and the old Bluff Fort. After dinner, members of the group were allowed some free time before lights out at 10:30 p.m.
Preparations for this year's Building Youth Around the World trip began in August 2012. Ian McCracken said he loved the idea of a project in his own back yard, in Utah. Next year he plans to take the group back to Samoa, Micronesia, Guam and the Truck Islands.
"What's so amazing about this is that it's about family," McCracken said. He brought his entire family to Montezuma Creek for this experience. Along with Braedon, there were daughters aKel - age 12 and Kaetlyn – age 5, and his wife Kristy.
"There are no salaries and no overhead. 100% of the donations go to kids in need. And this is all youth driven," McCracken said. "We're able to take service to others. The kids learn to give and not expect anything for themselves.
"We hope to develop future givers; philanthropists who love humanity. That's what this is about," Mc-
Cracken said. Elsie Dee, who led the local volunteers, said the response from the residents was great. The people were very open and grateful, and willing to receive the items offered, she said.
"We got a lot of compliments about all the 'green shirts' in the community," Dee said, referring to the green t-shirts worn by the group with the organization's name on them. "There was a lot of focus on individuals with disabilities, school supplies and items for the local food bank," Dee added.
"Elsie has been fabulous. She's been our girl on the ground," McCracken said.
McCracken's goal of inspiring youth to give to others and love humanity seems to be rubbing off. 12- year-old John Burg said the experience gave the group a chance to give other people things and not be selfish. He said it's good to give to other people who don't have many things.
8-year-old Brynleigh Ritchie summed it all up by saying, "I like doing this because you give to other people and not keep all for yourself."
She said the only other time she'd done anything like this before was at Christmas. But if Ian and Braedon McCracken have their way, wherever Building Youth Around the World is found, Christmas won't just come once a year.